LOCAL orange growers are being "ripped off” – with supermarkets selling oranges at an up to 2000 per cent mark up.
A Daily Advertiser investigation has revealed Valencia oranges, grown in large numbers in Griffith and Leeton, are being sold for $6 per kilogram in Wagga’s Woolworths and Coles.
Second generation Griffith grower and juicer Louis Sartor labelled the mark up an outrage.
He said farmers received 20 to 30 cents a kilogram for the produce.
“Farmers are at the bottom of the economic train,” Mr Sartor said.
“Many juicers have juicing contracts where they are getting 60 cents a litre and then it is being sold for between $3 and $4 a litre.
“There is still a big discrepancy between the farm gate and what suppliers get.
"I think if most consumers knew how much the mark-up was they would be aghast.”
Mr Sartor said the orange juice market had been eroded by recent claims that orange juice is not healthy.
He called for mandatory labelling that was clear – so growers like himself who produce natural juice were not harmed by claims that juice was sugary.
“There just needs to be a really good labelling system,” Mr Sartor said.
Mr Sartor believes the future for many Australian growers lies overseas – particularly in Asia – where there is more competition and less of a pricing stranglehold.
“We’ve seen an older generation of farmer and they are now probably looking at retiring.
"If those younger farmers come and take on the farm they really need to start value adding,” Mr Sartor said.
“The US market is a very big market for Australian Naval oranges.
“It’s very successful.”
This week Coles in Wagga was selling imported naval oranges for $4.98 per kilogram and Valencia Oranges for $5.98 per kilogram.
Woolworths had imported naval oranges on the shelves for $5.98 per kilogram and local naval oranges for $5.98 per kilogram.
“We need to create international competition,” Mr Sartor said.
“If they (the supermarkets) want to bastardise the produce and screw the farmers we need an alternative.
“They’ve had it very good for a very long time.”
He said growers needed to stand up for themselves and consumers.
A spokesman from Woolworths declined to comment on the situation.
Coles did not respond.
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