By Melissa Keogh
Local apple and pear growers are urging South Australian shoppers to overlook small marks and spots on fruit following a severe hailstorm last year that wiped out a quarter of the crop.
The Hailstorm Heroes campaign will launch in supermarkets and greengrocers this week to support local growers, who are facing losses of more than $32m in sales.
In October 2017, apple and pear crops in the Adelaide Hills and South East were hit by an intense hailstorm, affecting fruit growth and destroying 25% of the crop.
Local growers worked hard to save the fruit that had only sustained a few superficial marks on the skin, and are still good to eat.
The SA Apple and Pear Association says all apple and pear varieties were affected by the hailstorm, but the marks might be more visible on varieties such as Pink Lady and Granny Smith apples and Packham pears, harvested in late autumn.
Special Hailstorm Hero fruit packs are available at Coles, Foodland, IGA and ALDI stores, while Woolworths will be selling the Hailstorm Heroes fruit as part of its Odd Bunch range.
Hail marked apples and pears will also be sold loose at some independent grocers.
There are 60 apple and pear growers in SA – the majority of them in the Adelaide Hills – who produce 10% of the national apple crop and 5% of the country’s pear crop.
Together, the fruit is worth more than $75m.
SA Apple and Pear Growers Association CEO Susie Green says the storm has impacted the whole industry.
“Around 85-90% of SA’s apples and pears are grown in the Adelaide Hills and almost all the orchards sustained some losses during the widespread storm,” she says.
“There were also some losses in the South East.
“We hope educating shoppers about our Hailstorm Heroes, and encouraging people to buy the fruit, will help to salvage some returns for growers and also help reduce food waste.”
Fifth-generation grower Brett James says his Kersbrook orchard in the Adelaide Hills was hit three times by small hail during the October storm.
“The fine hail was the size of rice grains and went straight through the hail net, covering all the trees and marking the skin of small fruit that was starting to grow,” he says.
“Luckily, since the storm, we’ve had excellent growing conditions and a relatively mild summer so the apples and pears we managed to save have matured and developed delicious, full flavours – they really do taste great.”
Brett says he hopes local shoppers will look past the spots and support the campaign.
“Everyone is facing losses this year, so every little bit helps, not only for growers but also for the towns in growing regions,” he says.
Hailstorm Heroes is being delivered by Hort Innovation with support from the SA Apple and Pear Association, Primary Industries and Regions SA and Brand South Australia.
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