Aussies gearing up for Halloween are being encouraged to buy a beloved summer fruit to help out struggling farmers.
Pineapple farmers have been dealt a poor hand this farming season, as a combination of ill timed problems struck the sector.
Ben Stokes, a pineapple grower from the Glasshouse Mountain on the Sunshine Coast, said that it had been a tough few years for growers.
Mr Stokes said the industry was just starting to get back on track after a difficult few years during the pandemic, when transport and a worker shortage saw growers struggle.
Then 2022 flooding event hit pineapple growers hard, with the plants suffering as a result.
Mr Stokes said the flooding triggered premature plants known as mass natural flowering.
This resulted in an unprecedented surplus followed by a supply slump and a 50 per cent loss due to undersized crops.
“As we started to come out of that and push forward into normality, we had a huge natural flowering event earlier this year,” Mr Stokes aid.
“Last year we had that rain February then we had another half a metre in May, so two metres in the first six months of that year which sort of led to the poor plant health.
“When they (pineapples) stress out they flower, we always have a small there’s some natural flowering of that year.
“We had a huge supply of pineapples in February, then virtually a very minimum supply through July and August before there was any more production.”
Mr Stokes said everybody in the industry, as far north as Yeppoon, had the same issue.
“The scale of it was something never seen before,” he said.
“We try to harvest about 10 months of the year from late January to the end of October but we picked half of our annual production in the three weeks of February.
“There was a huge labour shortage, you needed lots of people to do lots of work for three weeks but then you didn’t need them.
“Your continuity was ruined but productively is almost normal again.”
Now, pineapple farmers like Mr Stokes, are hoping Aussies can help out and support the struggling industry,
Tropical Pines general manager, Anthony Dobson, said consumers should think about buying a pineapple and carving it like a pumpkin ahead of Halloween.
“Our growers have been doing it tough over the years with a range of challenging events but we are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with normal supply due to return in October, just in time for Halloween,” Mr Dobson said.
“We’ve seen a great take up of our Spooky Pines promotion over the past few years and we’re thrilled with all the community support for this Aussie Halloween tradition.”
Mr Stokes said carving a pineapple was a great way to support Aussie farmers.
“We just want people to enjoy the fruit and now we’ve got more supply coming on we want people to support us,” he said.
“Throughout the middle period of this year, the pricing has been rather high due to shortages but as it’s coming back into normality we encourage people to get back out and purchase some pineapple.
“You still get to eat the fruit (after carving) meaning there’s no waste.
“We hope that consumers will keep supporting us growers and pick up a pine over a pumpkin this Halloween.
“And for everyone getting Halloween ready, remember that a fresh juicy pineapple on a hot spring day is much more appetising than pumpkin soup.”
After carving, people have the option of eating the pineapples flesh immediately, refrigerating or freezing it to use later in recipes and smoothies.
Mr Stokes said he expected next years crops to be more evenly spread out given the recent weather conditions.