NO BOWL OF CHERRIES: Matt Randell from Mitchell's Fruit and Veg in Gympie.
NO BOWL OF CHERRIES: Matt Randell from Mitchell's Fruit and Veg in Gympie. Renee Albrecht

Christmas cherry and mango shortage tipped

GYMPIE region revellers might be facing a bleak Christmas, unable to enjoy the fruits of their labour thanks to a mango and cherry shortage.

"My niece has 800 mango trees, and there's not a mango on them," said Henry Nyburg, a 20-year veteran of the fruit industry.

While he was getting his stock for his Albert Park stall from far north Australia, he said the shortage would be a problem for at least the next two or three weeks.

Cooly Fruit Gympie owner Gordon Brown echoed Mr Nyburg's belief, saying "quality" problems were having a direct influence on prices.

"We're struggling to buy good quality mangoes at the amount we should be paying at this time of year," Mr Brown said.

The shortage appears to have been driven by a streak of hot weather while the fruit were flowering.

On the other side of the coin, unseasonable cold and continual rain has wreaked havoc on the cherry industry in Tasmania, leaving people scrambling to see if any other fruit will sit nicely on top of their ice cream sundaes.

Mitchell's Fruit and Veg owner Matthew Randell said this year's cherry harvest had been only 40% of last year's total.

He said the shortage could send prices sky-high for well into next year.

"(We) could see retail prices as high as $40 or $50 a kilo."

One bright spark in the midst of this Christmas gloom, though, is that rumours of a prawn shortage due to an outbreak of disease appear to be exaggerated.

"There's no shortage of prawns," said Fisherman's Haul owner Bruce Pearce.

While it was true boats had not caught many small prawns, he said they had turned up a lot of medium and large ones.

Mr Pearce said the annual reports of a prawn shortage were like a campfire ghost story, designed to scare people and drive prices up.

"It's the same story as last year."

Gympie Times

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