Tweed Fruit Exchange’s Maree Pauloudis with locally grown bananas.
Tweed Fruit Exchange’s Maree Pauloudis with locally grown bananas. John Gass

Yes, we do have bananas

BANANAS may have soared in price in major supermarkets, but Murwillumbah shoppers are still getting good deals, while supporting local farms.

Fruit and vegetable shops such as the Tweed Fruit Exchange in Murwillumbah’s main street are selling bananas for $3.75 a kilogram – way below the price of about $6.99 in Coles and Woolworths for increasingly rare North Queensland bananas.

Maree Paul Pouloudis, from the store, said it sold locally grown bananas – hence the lower prices – while supporting Tweed farmers.

Elsewhere retailers are predicting the price could hit $13 a kilo in the wake of Cyclone Yasi, which wiped out up to 90 per cent of Australia’s banana industry, as it blew through North Queensland.

National Farmers Federation president Jock Laurie said the damage to the banana crop was pushing up prices, just as it did after Cyclone Larry.

Mr Laurie estimated banana production wouldn’t get back up for another 12 to 18 months, although he conceded assessments of damage would become clearer in the next two days.

Banana Growers Council spokesman Jonathan Eccles agreed there would be a drastic decrease in supply, with Tully, Innisfail and Cardwell providing 85 per cent of the country’s supply.

But he expected farmers to get back on their feet within four to five months.

“One good thing is that the cyclone has come in a little earlier than Larry did, so we’ve got more weeks of summer season for the young plants to go through,” he said.

The higher prices are allowing local growers to recoup costs after years of battling.

The previous glut of Queensland fruit had forced growers on the NSW North Coast to pull hundreds of hectares of subtropical bananas out of production, with many saying they have only made a profit for six weeks of the past 52.

However, most appear to have retained minor patches, with memories of the Cyclone Larry-induced price spike from 2006 still fresh in most minds.



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