South Australians are being urged to support local growers by overlooking small hail marks and enjoying apples and pears with a few spots and dots this season.
Last October, a severe hailstorm hit the Adelaide Hills and South East damaging pears and apples as they were just beginning to grow, destroying a quarter of the crop.
Local growers worked hard to save the apples and pears that only had a few superficial makes on the skin but were still delicious and nutritious on the inside. This fruit will be sold as part of a “Hailstorm Heroes” campaign launched in early April in supermarkets and greengrocers across South Australia and the Northern Territory.
Fifth generation apple and pear grower Brett James said his Kersbrook orchard was hit three times by a battering of small hail during the night of 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 the small fruit that was starting to grow,” said Mr James.
“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.
“We hope South Australians will look past the spots and support us by eating Hailstorm Heroes apples and pears. It will make a huge difference. Everyone is facing losses this year, so every little bit helps, not only for growers but also for the towns in growing regions.”
At this stage estimates indicate South Australian growers are facing losses of more than $32 million in fruit sales due to the widespread hailstorm.
“The storm has impacted the whole industry. Around 85-90% of South Australia’s apples and pears are grown in the Adelaide Hills and almost all the orchards sustained some losses during the widespread storm. There were also some losses in the South East,” said Susie Green, South Australian Apple and Pears Growers Association CEO.
“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. The fruit tastes just as great, despite a few marks on the outside.
“Royal Gala apples and Williams pears will be the first Hailstorm Heroes at supermarkets and greengrocers. However, all apple and pear varieties were impacted by the hailstorm and the hail marks may actually be more visible on popular varieties harvested in late Autumn, like Pink Lady and Granny Smith apples and Packham pears.”
The Hailstorm Heroes campaign is being delivered by Hort Innovation using apple and pear marketing levies, with assistance from the South Australian Apple and Pear Association and support from retailers, Primary Industries and Regions SA, and Brand South Australia.
You can buy special Hailstorm Hero apple or pear packs from your local Coles, Foodland, IGA and ALDI. Woolworths will be selling Hailstorm Heroes apples and pears as part of its Odd Bunch range and the fruit will also be sold in packs and loose at some independent grocers, so keep an eye out for the Hailstorm Heroes fruit in store.