News

REVEALED: Why our fruit and vegie prices are about to rise

Hal's Fruit World lessee Mark Watson is afraid he won't be able to compete against major supermarkets when wholesale produce prices increase.
Hal's Fruit World lessee Mark Watson is afraid he won't be able to compete against major supermarkets when wholesale produce prices increase. Jarred Sferruzzi

RECOVERY efforts from Cyclone Debbie are well under way in the Mackay region, but for farmers and sellers, the headache's only just begun.

As growers lick their wounds after the storm swept through, independent fruit and vegetable shops will be hit with wholesale price increases that major supermarkets are unlikely to face.

Debbie caused havoc in some of the state's prime agricultural areas and it's estimated 95% of the capsicums and tomatoes consumed in winter come from the region, along with huge volumes of beans and zucchinis.

Hal's Fruit World lessee Mark Watson, who remained open almost every day during the cyclone, said he'll start feeling the impacts straight away.

"We'll see price increases immediately because Bundaberg was smashed and that's where we're getting our product from now," Mr Watson said.

"Pretty much everything will see a price increase, all your rock melons, your tomatos, lettuce.

"In the next couple of months there'll be a lot of southern produce coming up."

 

Have you noticed an increase in fruit and vegetable prices since Cyclone Debbie?

This poll ended on 19 April 2017.

Current Results

Yes

50%

No

50%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

 

While Mr Watson buys the majority of his products from farmers in Queensland and has agreements with them, that only sets a yearly price, which can fluctuate depending on conditions.

"If the supply is low, they'll charge more," he said.

"Pretty much the farmer sets the price. I can bargain a bit, but I don't like to too much as they've got to make a living too."

This differs to major supermarkets which have much larger buying power and existing long-term supply agreements which guarantee market prices.

While produce prices are expected to increase for everyone, Mr Watson believed the supply agreements would mean growers could not raise the wholesale price to make up for lost crops.

When asked about its supply agreements and changes in wholesale prices, in an email response a Woolworths spokesperson said they "work closely with our local growers and suppliers throughout the year and will continue to do so to evaluate any flow on impacts to supply following the recent weather events in central Queensland."

Hal's Food World currently purchases a head of iceberg lettuce for $5 and sells it for $5.99. As of Sunday, Woolworths online sells a head for $3.90.

CEO of leading industry body representing vegetable growers Ausveg, James Whiteside, said while retail prices are naturally affected by supply and demand, now more than ever Australians need to buy locally-grown produce.

"With growers facing a massive clean-up bill in the wake of this catastrophic weather event, it will make a huge difference if consumers commit to buying Australian-grown fruit and vegetables," Mr Whiteside said.

However, for Mr Watson, while he'd like to believe people would be interested in his locally bought produce, he knows costs are a factor.

"I'm absolutely afraid wholesale price increases might turn people away," he said.

"I have a set margin that I price everything to and I hardly ever go above or below that.

"It's because they've (supermarkets) got that set price all year round, farmers have to sell to them no matter what the market does."

Topics:  ausveg cyclone debbie farmer fruit grower independent vegetable woolworths

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Husband and wife team take top khanacross spots

RALLY CHAMPS: Outright winner Tim Hall with close runner-up and wife Kym Hall.

Whitsunday Sporting Car Club held its Twilight and Gravel Khanacross

Prossie star is kicking goals

Kaylem Douthwaite (second from right)  with his North Queensland team mates in Bundaberg at the Vic Jensen Carnival.

Prossie star is kicking goals.

Local Partners

Tycoon plans China-wide blitz if island plan gets go ahead

TYCOON William Han plans a China-wide billboard blitz promoting Queensland if he gets the green light to build a $583 million luxury complex with three resorts

Why crowds are loving Happy Kanye at Splendour

Danger Dave and Melissah Marie with the artwork Happy Kanye at Splendour in the Festival 2017.

By Barcelona-based artistic collective Hungry Castle

Amber Heard, Elon Musk among Splendour celebs

Bernard Fanning plays the main stage at Splendour in the Grass 2017 on day 2.

DAY TWO of Splendour in the Grass was the day of celebrities.

Working class? Man, Gympie's got the show for you

Jimmy Barnes

Aussie rock icons coming to Gympie for 150th celebrations.

How many triangles are in this picture?

The simple illustration has been shared thousands of times on Facebook after leaving viewers scratching their heads.

VIDEO: The 'Disco Boob' trend at Splendour

Rachael Millen, of Newcastle, sporting the fashionable chest peace of glitter at Splendour in the Grass 2017 near Byron Bay.

VIDEO: Festival organisers forced to clarify policy on nudity.

Bieber quit tour to set up his own church?

Justin Bieber on stage during his concert at ANZ Stadium in Homebush.

Bieber is calling it quits on the rest of his Purpose World Tour

Bachelor hopeful ‘didn’t realise how naked she was’

The Bachelor Australia‘s Leah

Her dress was certainly daring, but she wasn't aware by just how much

Phelps shredded over shark race fiasco

"Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White," with Phelps testing his speed against that of a great white shark.

People are genuinely upset at the way the race was run

Film boss marvels at Sunshine State

FOR REVIEW AND PREVIEW PURPOSES ONLY. Mark Ruffalo and Chris Hemsworth in a scene from the movie Thor: Ragnarok. Supplied by Marvel.

Thor: Ragnarok success may mean more Marvel movies for Queensland.

ABC's Q&A: Should 16-year-olds be allowed to vote?

Opposition Health Minister Catherine King on the Q & A panel, left, and right, Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg.

But there was one thing the students weren't discussing.

TENANTS FROM HELL: See the mess left by evicted couple

DISGUSTING: Mess left by evicted tenants. Owner of the Mongogarie property Christine Beatty has been left at least $5000 out of pocket.

Couple were 'living large' while not paying their rent

How Gladstone's cheapest and most expensive homes stack up

SPECTACULAR: This home on Springs Road, Agnes Water, is selling in the mid-$2 million range.

With the market currently low, now is the time to invest.

'We’re goin' to Bonnie Doon!' and now you can too

How's the serenity?

The experience will have you exclaiming “how’s the serenity?”

New life for Bree and historic Oddfellows Hall

TWO CHANGES: Bree Dahl with her new baby Ivy in front of the historic Oddfellows Hall she purchased at auction and will renovate into a house.

Historic hall to be turned into home

Financial scandal destroys alternative community

Families who gave thousands to be a part of an alternative community at Mt Burrell, west of Murwillumbah, are now trying to recover their investment. Picture: Jamie Hanson

Dream Utopia turns into a nightmare

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!