Avocados are selling for as little as 99c in WA supermarkets —- the lowest prices in recent memory — because of a big Australian crop and weaker demand as COVID dries up orders from cafes. Although once fetching as much as $4.50, Aldi is currently selling Hass avocados for 99c, while Coles and Woolworths are selling them for $1.20 each and Spudshed is advertising five for $5. Avocados Australia chief executive John Tyas said a bumper season was expected across Australia for the rest of the year, as more young trees matured following perfect growing conditions across the nation. Mr Tyas said growers across Australia are expected to harvest 65 per cent more than they did a year earlier. Manjimup avocado farmer and packer Vic Grozotis said avocados were out of season in WA so most now on local supermarket shelves were from Queensland. “The low prices result from a combination of things. As well as the big crop, COVID has closed a lot of cafes in other States, which are big sellers of smashed avocado dishes,” he said. “Demand is usually lower in winter as avocados are typically enjoyed more in summer, as part of salads.” Prices are expected to remain low when WA starts harvesting in two months. WA is expecting its biggest harvest on record over the season that runs from August to February — about 8.5 million trays at 5.5kg each (up from 2.4m tray last year). Over the same months the rest of Australia is expected to harvest a further 1.5m trays. Local consumption is just 8m trays over that period, so Australia is now growing more than it eats, said fellow Manjimup grower Travis Luzny. While the low prices are good for consumers, they’re causing pain for WA producers. Mr Luzny said it would be tough for growers to wear prices that fall too low, particularly as freight, packaging and labour costs have all risen. Mr Luzny implored supermarkets not to import avocados from New Zealand this summer, given the surplus available in WA. “This would create a glut which would not only depress prices further, but would slow down movement and affect quality for the consumer,” he said. Mr Tyas said Avocados Australia was ramping up its export campaign to help absorb some of the additional production. Only five per cent of Australia’s production has been exported in the past — mostly to Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong — but the fruit was becoming more price competitive. WA also expects to send some avocados to Japan this year. Mr Grozotis said said finding labour was another major challenge for the industry. Packhouses in Manjimup would need 250 people alone, with considerably more needed in the orchards for picking. “Now with the labour shortage, we are going to be paying significantly higher wages for harvesting fruit with lower prices, it may cause some to question their viability,” he said.