Australians are being urged to embrace “spooky pines” for Halloween to stop tonnes of pineapples from going to waste as farmers emerge from drought with bumper crops.

Key points:

  • Pineapple growers are suffering from a COVID-related sales slump
  • Cruise ships, airlines, restaurants and cafes are usually their biggest customers
  • Growers are set for a bumper crop this year

Growers say they are hurting from a COVID-related slump in sales due to cancelled cruises, fewer flights and lockdowns cutting into restaurant, cafe and restaurant trade.

Australian Pineapples chairman Sam Pike says people could help out the industry by buying pineapples to make “spooky pines” for Halloween, smoothies, pina coladas or other pineapple-inspired recipes.

A pineapple carved into a Halloween lantern.

“Spooky pines” are putting an Aussie spin on Halloween.(

ABC Rural: Ashleigh Bagshaw


Rough time

“I would be surprised if there’s a pineapple farm in Queensland that is not down at least 20 per cent on what they were [in returns] probably three years ago, if not more,” the fourth generation Glass House Mountains farmer said.

About 35 million pineapples are produced in Australia every year, mostly grown in Queensland between the Sunshine Coast and Mareeba, to ensure a year-round supply of juicy fresh fruit.

Ripe pineapples in a field with mountains in the distance.

After years of drought, growers are harvesting a great crop.(

ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols


It takes about two years after the tops are planted in the ground for fruit to be ready for harvesting.

Mr Pike said despite pineapples commanding prices between $3.90 to $4.90 in the supermarkets, growers were doing well if they were paid $1 at the moment.

“There’s a lot of missing money there, of course some of that has to go through the pack house who have to make money to pack the fruit but still there’s money missing there and we’re not seeing it,” Mr Pike said.

Pineapples on the supermarket shelf.

Sam Pike says farmers are lucky to get paid $1 per fruit.(

ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols


He said the cost of production varied between 50 to 75 cents for different growers, averaging about 65 cents a plant.

Ben Clifton, from Valley Syndicate farm based near Yeppoon in Central Queensland, said this year’s fruit was “fantastic” but growers just had too much.

A pineapple grower squats next to a field of pineapples with his hand holding onto one of the pineapples.

Central Queensland pineapple farmer Ben Clifton says this year’s strong seasonal conditions means there’s “more fruit to sell”.(

ABC Rural: Ashleigh Bagshaw


Good seasonal conditions and market closures have created the perfect storm to push pricing down, putting the squeeze on growers.

“Everybody in the country wants to see markets open up, holiday destinations, restaurants, airports, cruise ships back online, so we can all get back to the life we love,” the  production manager said.

“A lot of the industries that COVID has affected are big supporters of the pineapple industry, so we need mums and dads at home to get a pineapple on the plate, chop it up, put it in the fridge – the kids will love it.

“Or slice it up and put it on the barbecue.”

Tropical Pines has filmed a video showing people how to create “spooky pines” as an Aussie alternative to America’s carved pumpkins for Halloween.

“To get the Australian spin on the Halloween story, we’d love consumers to get a pineapple, carve it, drop a tea-light inside and you’ve got your very own spooky pineapple,” Mr Clifton said.

Changes in the industry

Sam Pike’s father Murray emphasised growers had done everything they could to make their farms more efficient with mechanisation.

Man in the driver's seat of a cart next to a field of pineapples.

Murray Pike, from Sandy Creek Pineapple Company, says the industry has become far more efficient.(

ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols


“It’s a case of have to, unless you become more efficient we wouldn’t be here,” he said.

In August Sam Pike took over the top industry role at Australian Pineapples from outgoing chairman North Queensland grower Stephen Pace.

Mr Pike said the family-focused industry was experiencing change with younger generations returning to run farms.

Posted , updated 

Halloween ‘spooky fruit’, pina coladas or smoothies — farmers’ plea to consumers to make use of bumper crop
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