Cherries in short supply before Christmas this year

Article by Olivia Lambert / /
December 01, 2016 /
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OUR Aussie Christmas could be about to change as we know it. We might not get to eat one of our favourite foods this year.

We are in the midst of a cherry crisis, with the stoned fruit expected to cost an extra $5 a kilogram this season.

Coles has issued an apology, telling customers rain had caused cherries to swell and split, and would have a limited supply. Woolworths is currently selling cherries for almost $20 a kilo and charging $7 for punnets.

NSW Cherry Growers’ Association president Fiona Hall said the season was running about two weeks behind, meaning it will be a scramble to get bulk cherries on supermarket shelves before Christmas.

She told crops were down about 50 or 60 per cent because of wet weather during the growing season. Demand is at an all time high during December, with the fruit a symbol for Christmas in Australia.

Lauren Rosewarne, from Melbourne University’s School of Social and Political Sciences, said there wasn’t really a substitute for cherries.
“Cherries have a symbolic role in Australian summer time and Christmas culture. We don’t have a snowy European Christmas but we’ve got cherries and seafood,” Dr Rosewarne told

“There’s not an easy Christmassy substitute and importing them at this time of year is going to be difficult. They grow in warmer weather and Australia imports some cherries from America, but they’re not grown there this time of year.

“You can buy canned cherries or frozen cherries, but defrosting a box doesn’t make for a nice fruit platter, it doesn’t have the same appeal.

“It will become a class problem at Christmas, cherries will be an extreme luxury item and they’ll get really expensive as it comes to Christmas and it will be harder for the average person to get.”

Ms Hall said despite a drop in the number of cherries this year, quality will make up for it.

“It will be a long time before we get them in the box but we had a wet winter so there’s a lot of good soil moisture so quality should be good,” she said.

Ms Hall said cherries were currently being harvested in Young in regional NSW. Cherries should be picked before Christmas and the New Year.

Harvesting in Orange, in Central West NSW, won’t be finished until after the New Year.

Ms Hall said it wasn’t just NSW copping a hard cherry season, with some areas of Victoria also struggling to harvest on time.

The bad news doesn’t stop with cherries either, our beloved coconuts are also falling short this summer.

Across the globe coconuts are running out, due to storms, droughts and Lethal Yellowing disease, which is spread by plant-hopping insects.
Dr Rosewarne said we’re also to blame, because we’ve bled the coconut dry.

“We’ve learnt to harness every potential benefit,” she said.

“We’re eating the flesh, drinking it and rubbing it on our skin. We’ve drained that coconut.”

Dr Rosewarne said coconuts had been packaged as a superfood and the demand had exceeded.

However, she believes there are some substitutes for coconuts. Many use coconuts as their source of saturated fat, but Dr Rosewarne said people could just go back to butter or embrace cashew or almond butter.

“I don’t know if we can replace dodgy coconut water, but we can move on and get over that. Maybe diluted juices could work, one part apple juice and nine parts water.”

When it comes to our skin and hair, Dr Rosewarne said shea, a fat extracted from a nut, could do the trick.