Supermarkets Squeeze Orange Juice Supply

Farmers have warned a global orange juice shortage is a stark reminder of Australia’s food security issues as fair prices for farmers remain nowhere in sight.

Brazil, the world’s largest global supplier of orange juice, was facing a 25 per cent drop in orange production due to drought and citrus greening disease. This, coupled with years of downward pressure on Australian citrus growers to compete with cut-price imports, meant there may not be enough locally grown oranges to fill the gap in domestic supply, NSW Farmers Horticulture Committee Chair Jo Brighenti Barnard said.

“Over the years the major supermarkets have been price gouging consumers by increasing their margins, squeezing returns paid to Australian farmers and forcing processors to increasingly use cheap imports, but Australian consumers are left to pay the cost,” Ms Brighenti Barnard said.

“The facts are clear: if we don’t pay farmers fairly for the food they produce here in Australia, we’ll end up totally reliant on imports – and when there’s a global shortage, we won’t have locally-grown products to fill the gap.

“Today it’s orange juice, but unless we address this issue soon tomorrow it could be rice, and Aussie families are already paying a premium when they head to the shops to buy the food they need.”

As shortages in orange supply continue to sweep the globe, politicians needed to heed the stark warning and support the Australian agricultural industry through scrapping anti-farming policies that hold farmers back.

Ms Brighenti Barnard said risks such as the greening disease crippling Brazil didn’t come from Australian growers but from imports, and governments needed to keep our farmers farming, along with delivering the serious competition reform urgently needed to ensure Aussie farmers could provide food security for the nation moving forward.

“Farmers here in Australia need a fair and level playing field,” Ms Brighenti Barnard said.

“We’ve got a relatively high cost of production here, and if our leaders don’t solve the problem of farmgate prices well below the cost of production, it’s every Australian who will ultimately pay the cost.

“This is why we’ve been crying out for real action to support fair prices and conditions for farmers – including a mandatory Food and Grocery Code of Conduct, making price gouging illegal and the implementation of divestiture powers, among a range of other measures to ensure price transparency and fair contract terms.

“Without this enforceable, actionable regulation and legislation, we don’t have the tools we need to stop profit from being sucked out between the paddock and plate, leaving farmers and families at a loss at both the checkout and the farm gate.”

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