At this point in time, strawberries are selling for a staggering amount. But what does it actually cost for a farmer to grow a product like strawberries? Bundaberg strawberry growers Bruce and Tina McPherson try to explain: "On average, a plant will produce a kilo of strawberries per season," Tina McPherson said. "So it's very easy to then break down the cost of production of a kilo of strawberries."
For the physical plant, which the McPherson's explain is a 'plug' plant, the cost works out to be about $0.90. "Then we've got ground-prep which is about $0.15 a plant," Bruce McPherson said. "The other one, which we call pre-prep, includes your plastic (mulch), putting your fertilizer underneath your trickle tape, all your plumbing up for irrigation. That's about another $0.43 per kilo."
Fertilizers and sprays cost about $0.75. Maintenance costs, which includes weeding and maintaining headlands, comes in at around $0.28. Picking costs an estimated $1.30 per kilogram. Packing also works out at $1.30 per kilo.
"The physical packaging — so, buying the punnets along with the freight and diesel to get them to you — they're interlinked: that's about $0.70 per kilo," Mr. McPherson said. For freight itself, the McPherson's worked out they pay approximately $0.55 per kilogram.
"Then we've got a clean-up at the end of the season, so we pull up all the plastic, we put that through a recycling plant, we have to pay to dump it. Then we put a cover crop back in, and we rework the ground to get ready for next year," Mr. McPherson said.
"That adds up to about another $0.16 for all of that." In total, that comes to $6.52 per plant, or per kilo, in fixed costs alone. Bruce McPherson said five years ago that the same costing would have come in at below $4 per kilogram.