Looking forward to the coming ahead, many Australian growers can only see a further, unsustainable squeeze on margins as the cost of inputs is skyrocketing. Prices for fuel, fertiliser, chemicals, packaging and other products necessary for production, many of which are imported, are going up and up. With a huge shortage of unskilled labour, affecting the whole economy and not just horticulture, labour costs are also well above average.
That is why the Growcom team is currently consulting with industry on Future Fields, a new 10-year strategic plan for the Queensland fresh produce sector and supply chain. At some of the regional workshops held to date, growers have identified an oversupply of produce as a challenge that need to be addressed together. Certainly one legitimate response to the current squeeze on margins is planting less.
In response to the oversupply challenge, and many other challenges besides, it's being recognised that as an industry and supply chain, greater collaboration is needed. At the very least, there is a need to build a better and more current picture of production so that the industry and individual business owners can make decisions that maximise their return on investment.