Seeing red over Oranges

Remember the vision on TV a few years ago of citrus farmers bulldozing whole orchards of orange trees? Maybe that’s why I’m paying $9.50 for a 3kg (Valencia) bag today at Woolies instead of the $4.90 not that long ago?

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They are coming from the USA. Wait a couple of months and the Australian Valencias will be in season. I have seen beautiful Navel oranges (USA) for $9.60/kg locally, and bags of sad NSW Valencias 3kg bags for $6.99 - they were soft, not much juice, probably late season picking and stored.


Ask yourself HOW can we be eating fruit shipped across the Pacific Ocean that can still sell in Australian supermarkets? Remember Sunraysia fruit? Why can America transport ‘fresh’ fruit to Australia YET Australia can’t put Australian grown and produced fruit on the grocery shelf? I think it’s the taxes,transport costs,energy prices etc There should be an inquiry, it’s not just the supermarkets, the farmers are struggling and not surviving and the Government is imposing water,energy and transport costs so Australian farmers can’t compete against foreign competition. Canned pineapple from the Philippines,Hawaii cheaper than Queensland? I buy the CHEAPEST, can’t afford patriotism

Its called “Free Trade” (as long as the US gets priority). I seem to recall that at the time it all began, Aus agreed to a period of time (it was a few years as I recall but could be wrong) where we could not sell into the American market, but they could flood us with goods. So it was OK for the USA to indulge in protectionism, as they do even now, but apparently nobody else is allowed to. I say bring it back. There is no way I want to be buying food from someplace else when we can and do produce it here.


The main reason is navel oranges are out of season here:

Navel orange season in Australia is May to November (plus a bit longer with refrigeration). As many Australian consumer have a desire to have fresh oranges outside this season, they are imported to meet the demand. If only fruits which were in season were purchased, there would be no need to import fruits from overseas. Other fresh fruits are also imported to allow consumers to consume them outside of the Australian growing season.

Whilst we import US oranges during out of season times, Australia also exports oranges to the US to meet their own domestic market appetite for oranges. This has been done for many years (since at least the early 1990s), well before any free trade agreements. These were done under a single import arrangement with the US.

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Can you describe these impositions more fully, I am not familiar with them.

Yes I know we get produce out of season on our grocery shelves
But doesn’t lead to the question of greenhouse gases and global warming
Freight is powered by DIESEL and oil, there is the packaging and the enormous amount of energy used to bring Californian oranges to Australian grocery shelves and still sell them at a competitive price.
Coles has an ENORMOUS hydroponic tomato production in the middle of the Australian desert where they can grow tomatoes all year round.
Surely there is somewhere in SA that could supply oranges year round to Australia
BTW I am NOT an agricultural expert ,only have a backyard lemon tree so I don’t know where it could be produced

That applies to any goods traded long distances not just oranges. As it is the market is controlled by an economy that allows profit to determine nearly all outcomes and at the same time allows environmental costs to be largely ignored.

Vast quantities of pollutants, including greenhouse gasses, are released into the environment. Not having to pay for these costs acts as a huge subsidy for those who produce them. If all costs were accounted for, the prices, as so availability, of many products would be much different.

The transport costs to other States would still be large and, for a while at least, burning diesel.

Sundrop greenhouse tomatoes are transported using diesel from Port Augusta. Their current production is about 3% of Oz tomatoes. Hopefully in future others too will at least try to reduce fossil fuel usage in primary production.

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It would be extremely expensive. Orange flowers are triggered by temperature and light duration. This means oranges would need to be grown in an enclosure where the growing conditions can be modified effectively creating a northern hemisphere climate, to trick oranges to flower and hence fruit. This would mean 10s, if not 100s of hectares in some sort building with cooling and lighting systems. The capital and running costs would be prohibitive.

It is also not a great way to use the worlds resources. Buying locally grown fruit in season would be a better solution.


Supermarkets used to be able to buy locally grown fruit. But now it all runs on big contracts and National Distribution systems where the fruit in North Qld 10km from the shop will be transported to NSW for distribution to their stores, then that fruit possibly driven all that way back up north.

Factory farms get touted as the saviour of agriculture, but they are very expensive to build, energy intensive and only suitable for a small range of vegetables (mostly leafy greens). They claim to reduce water usage (which they appear to do), chemical use (but require the addition of all nutrients, so the jury is out on that one), footprint (yes, multi-storey building has more growing area, but the urban land is very expensive), food miles - provided the locals can afford the price - most sell into high end restaurants or consumers willing to pay for the environmental credentials. Energy costs are high, not all are fully solar - they have artificial light, pumps, mechanical systems going all the time.

Poly tunnel type farming is cheaper but still expensive to build and run. It is only suitable for crops that don’t require pollination (bees can’t get in) like tomatoes that rely on pollen being shaken by wind (or buzz wands by staff). Oranges need bees, and bees need more than just orange flowers, so need to get out to forage. Best solution is to buy oranges in season, check the labels for Grown in Australia, see your Green Grocer or buy direct from farmers or backyard orchardists.


Well the citrus season has come, the oranges are still $8.90 for 3kg, and I’m still wondering about all those orange orchards I watched being bulldozed on TV :slightly_frowning_face:

Same for us and goes for every other fruit or veg.

The centralised distribution networks of the large supermarket chains are designed to minimise the added costs of meeting the needs of the greater SE capitals and immediate cities. Greater - Melbourne+ Sydney+, Brisbane+, and nearby cities and Canberra!

Not quite an 80/20 split these centres account for 3 out of every 4 customers in Vic, NSW, QLD. Approx 16M of 21+Million population. One reason why until very recently Aldi had no stores in North Queensland.

Approximate comparison:
Sea freight 34,000 km Los Angels to Sydney at 3gms CO2 per tonne km. Road freight long haul articulated for SA citrus 3600 km to Cairns via Brisbane, 1200km to Sydney at around 80gms CO2 per tonne km. ‘

Of note Australia exports around one third of annual citrus production. Increasing Australian Citrus Export Demand - Citrus Industry Magazine