Vegetable growers fight for a fair go

LOCAL IS BEST: The Bundaberg Region has so much to offer.
LOCAL IS BEST: The Bundaberg Region has so much to offer.

BUNDABERG vegetable growers are fighting to retain their market share as vendors stock imported foreign products at an unprecedented level.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences reported a 16% rise in vegetable imports to $908 million last financial year.

Local growers are battling an influx of cheap vegetables from China, south-east Asia and South America flooding the domestic market.

Managing director of AustChilli, David De Paoli, said the figure needed to be reined in to ensure the future viability of agricultural producers.

"People only have so much to spend these days and if they can buy a cheaper frozen option then they will," he said.

"The more this happens, the more money is taken away from our local economy."

Mr De Paoli said local producers could not compete against their overseas rivals who had a much lower cost of production and were offered subsidies by their governments.

"It is nearly impossible to compete against overseas suppliers," he said.

"What our growers need is less taxes and an opportunity to compete equally."

Mr De Paoli said a high Australian dollar bolstered by the mining industry had meant local growers were finding it increasingly difficult to compete on the export market.

Topics:  fruit and vegetable growers horticulture

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