SYDNEY, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- The stringent standards that supermarkets impose on the tomato industry in Australia has meant 70-84 percent of the fruit is left to rot on the farm, a study by the University of the Sunshine Coast has found.
Lead author Tara McKenzie told local media on Friday that "at every link, from harvesting and sorting to the market floor, edible tomatoes that were slightly odd-shaped or marked, or too small or too large, were rejected."
"The ability of supermarkets to impose their own specifications and reject product by the pallet, based on a single blemish, gives them considerable power over primary suppliers and wholesalers," she said.
McKenzie's investigation focused on two localised supply chains from a farm in the Queensland State township of Bundaberg.
The environmental science honors student followed one of the chains to the city of Brisbane and also examined the path of the tomatoes that remained in the local area.
Although the sample size only reflects one farm, research fellow Lila Singh-Peterson said the study highlights some really worrying trends in Australia's food security.
"For example, since the 1970s we've got 30 percent fewer farms, 40 percent fewer farmers and 20 percent lower areas of farmland," she said.
"When you look at how much government support there is for farmers in different countries, in Australia it's pretty minimal."