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'It's critical': Shoppers urged to buy 'flawed' fruit on Coles shelves

Shoppers who turn their noses up at a bruised banana or misshaped tomatoes are making the drought and bushfire crisis even harder for Australia’s struggling farmers, according to a Queensland minister.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said supermarket customers shouldn’t care about the appearance of the fruit and vegetables they buy in store as they “still taste just as good”.

He said while “mangoes may have a few marks, apples may be a little smaller”, farmers are in dire need of the public’s support during one of the toughest growing periods on record.

Supermarket shoppers are being urged to buy imperfect fruit and vegetables to support farmers.
Shoppers have been urged to buy imperfect fruit and vegetables to support farmers. Source: Getty Images

“They’ll be helping our farmers at a time when they need it most. Supporting our farmers is vital to supporting regional jobs and regional economies,” Mr Furner said.

He praised supermarket giant Coles for their decision to shelve imperfect fruit and pay higher wholesale prices during the testing conditions.

Coles Group chief executive officer Steven Cain said the company had been working closely with farmers to adjust product specifications where necessary, to give them certainty that they could continue to sell their produce.

“Our customers are very keen to support Australian farmers, so we’re hoping they join us in looking beyond a few surface imperfections – the beauty of Australian produce is certainly more than skin deep,” he said.

The fruit and vegetables shoppers are being urged to buy are among the full priced produce and not part of the already discounted imperfect range offered by Coles and other leading supermarkets.

According to Growcom chief executive officer David Thompson, selective shopping had led to unnecessary wastage.

Coles are shelving imperfect produce to help farmers after bushfires and drought.
Coles are shelving imperfect produce to help farmers. Source: Getty Images

Farmer speaks out over challenging conditions

Fourth-generation horticulturist Tim Carnell from Stanthorpe, Queensland, has been severely impacted by prolonged drought and recent hail storms impacting his crops of field grown gourmet tomatoes and capsicums.

"This past 18 months has seen some of the most challenging growing conditions of our generation,” he said.

“The worst thing for us would be for shoppers to turn their nose up at tomatoes that might not be as firm or big, or capsicums that are slightly misshaped.

“It’s critical for the long-term survival of Aussie farmers that customers continue to buy and enjoy the fresh food we grow, even if it’s not perfect to look at.”

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