PRIME PRODUCE: President of the Bowen Gumlu Growers Association Carl Walker, Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner with Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Japan, Mr Susumu Hamamura, and Consul-General Mr Kazunari Tanaka.
PRIME PRODUCE: President of the Bowen Gumlu Growers Association Carl Walker, Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner with Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Japan, Mr Susumu Hamamura, and Consul-General Mr Kazunari Tanaka.

Fast food spoiling bottom line for region’s growers

TOUGH economic times are changing people’s eating habits and it’s impacting the bottom line for our region’s fruit and growers.

Bowen Gumlu Growers Association president Carl Walker said last year had been a tough year for many growers in the region.

“With the economy being a bit shaky people don’t eat fruit and vegies as much as they should even though it’s the cheapest option,” he said.

The Bowen region produces large amounts of tomatoes and capsicums as well as its famous mangoes.

It is the largest winter growing region in Australia and is worth about $460 million a year.

Mr Walker said fast food and the state of the economy was having an impact on the fruit and vegetable industry.

“Lots of people are eating fast food and turning away from fruit and vegies,” he said.

“I don’t know how we change people’s eating habits.”

Mr Walker said despite people thinking fast food was cheaper than fresh, it was a misconception.

Not only has the rise of fast food and challenging economic conditions made for a difficult year for growers, Mr Walker said extra regulations would make things hard in the future.

“We are trying to work with the new regulations which are making it extremely difficult to remain profitable,” he said.

HARD HIT: Bowen Gumlu Growers Association president Carl Walker.
HARD HIT: Bowen Gumlu Growers Association president Carl Walker.

However, like many farmers Mr Walker said the region’s growers would continue on this year but they were asking for one thing.

“We hope that we have a moderate to heavy wet season that will basically set us up for 2020,” he said.

“We need a decent wet season to top the water up.

“It’s the best it’s been for a while but we still need a top up.”

With the growth of economies in places in South East Asia, Mr Walker said fruit and vegetable growers were looking at new places.

“Moving forward we are working on more markets and more opportunities,” he said.

The president of the Bowen Gumlu Growers Association said tomato growers were struggling more than most in the region.

The latest information from the State Government’s Agtrends 2019-20 report shows the struggles the vegetable industry has faced in the past year.

Gross value product of vegetables are forecast to be $1.22 billion this financial year, 4 per cent less than 2018-19 and 2 per cent less than the average for the past five years.

Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said drought was taking its toll on Queensland’s agricultural sector.

“While Queensland primary producers are among the best in the world at handling climatic variability, this drought is having a significant impact,” he said.