Pineapple growers want you to carve “spooky fruits” to keep the bumper crop from going to waste

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Australians urged to adopt ‘spooky fruits’ for Halloween to prevent tons of pineapples from being wasted as farmers emerge from drought with bumper crops.

Producers say they are suffering from a drop in COVID-related sales due to canceled cruises, fewer flights and blockages cutting trade to restaurants, cafes and eateries.

Australian Pineapples chairman Sam Pike said people could help the industry by buying pineapples to make “spooky fruits” for Halloween, smoothies, pina coladas or other pineapple-inspired recipes .

The “spooky pines” give an Australian look to Halloween.(

ABC Rural: Ashleigh Bagshaw

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Hard times

“I would be surprised if there is a pineapple farm in Queensland that is not down by at least 20% from what it used to be. [in returns] probably three years ago, if not more, ”said the fourth generation of farmers from Glass House Mountains.

About 35 million pineapples are produced in Australia each year, mostly grown in Queensland between the Sunshine Coast and Mareeba, to ensure a year-round supply of juicy fresh fruit.

Ripe pineapples in a field with mountains in the distance.
After years of drought, producers are harvesting an excellent harvest.(

ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols

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It takes about two years after the tops are planted in the ground for the fruits to be ready for harvest.

Mr Pike said that despite pineapple prices ranging from $ 3.90 to $ 4.90 in supermarkets, growers are doing well if they are paid $ 1 at the moment.

“There is a lot of money missing there, of course part has to go through the packing station which has to earn money to pack the fruit, but money is still lacking and we don’t see it. “said Mr. Pike.

Pineapple on the supermarket shelf.
Sam Pike says farmers are lucky to be paid $ 1 per fruit.(

ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols

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He said the cost of production ranged between 50 and 75 cents for different growers, averaging around 65 cents per plant.

Ben Clifton, of the Valley Syndicate farm based near Yeppoon in central Queensland, said this year’s fruit was “fantastic” but the growers just had too much.

A pineapple farmer squats next to a pineapple field with his hand holding one of the pineapples.
Central Queensland pineapple grower Ben Clifton says strong seasonal conditions this year mean there is “more fruit to sell”.(

ABC Rural: Ashleigh Bagshaw

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Good seasonal conditions and market closures created the perfect storm to bring prices down, putting pressure on producers.

“Everyone in the country wants to see the markets open, vacation destinations, restaurants, airports, cruise ships back on line, so we can all get back to the lives we love,” said the production manager.

“A lot of industries affected by COVID are big supporters of the pineapple industry, so we need moms and dads at home to put a pineapple on the plate, chop it, put it in the fridge – kids will love it.

“Or slice it up and put it on the barbecue.”

Australian Pineapples filmed a video showing people how to create a “spooky pine” as an Australian alternative to American carved pumpkins for Halloween.

“To get an Australian take on Halloween history, we would like consumers to get a pineapple, slice it up, put a tea light in it, and you get your own spooky pineapple,” Mr Clifton said.

Changes in the industry

Sam Pike’s father Murray said producers have done everything they can to make their farms more efficient through mechanization.

Man in the driver's seat of a truck next to a pineapple field.
Murray Pike of Sandy Creek Pineapple Company says the industry has become much more efficient.(

ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols

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“It’s a case of duty, unless you get more efficient, we wouldn’t be here,” he said.

In August, Sam Pike took over from outgoing chairman, North Queensland producer Stephen Pace as head of industry at Australian Pineapples.

Mr Pike said the family-oriented industry is undergoing changes with the return of younger generations to operate farms.


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