Article by: Hari Yellina
Fresh fruit and vegetable prices are projected to rise in the coming weeks as supply chain problems continue to plague all four supermarket behemoths. Flooding in March and severe rain this month on Australia’s east coast have interrupted normal growth conditions and closed several highways, causing additional delays. Many official reports state that several stores in Queensland’s southeast are out of lettuce, spinach, avocados, apples, strawberries, and raspberries, and that some are selling merchandise at inflated prices. According to the publication, heirloom tomatoes were selling for $16 per kg in some places.
Customers were apologised to by Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, and IGA, all posted supply shortage notices over the weekend. “We’re sorry if we’re missing some of your regular products,” read a note displayed over the weekend at Woolworths in Redland Bay. “Unforeseen events in our [distribution centre] that feeds this store have caused this.” Deliveries are still coming in on a regular basis, and we’re refilling as soon as we can.” “A number of variables driving inflation for all retailers, including increases in the cost of raw ingredients, energy price rises, freight costs, extreme weather events, and ongoing Covid impacts,” a Coles spokesman said on Thursday.
“We’re assisting our suppliers in flood-affected areas by visiting their sites to meet with growers and understand how the floods have impacted their individual operations, purchasing the product they have available, and continuing to work collaboratively with them as they re-establish operations,” she said. “At Coles, we put a lot of effort into keeping the cost of a family grocery store low and providing outstanding value to our consumers.” Due to the rain and floods, Woolworths fruit and vegetable general manager Paul Turner predicted that prices for some fresh goods, such as lettuces, will rise for another four weeks. “As a result, typical growing conditions were delayed,” he explained.
“In the short run, shoppers may notice a shortage of goods and a price increase until regular stock levels return in four weeks, depending on weather conditions.” Additionally, excessive rain has affected the growth and quality of our pre-packaged spinach leaf salads; however, growth and quality are already increasing and will only improve in the coming weeks.” Mr Turner predicted that fruit prices would not fall until late June. “We’re doing everything we can to offer the highest quality Australian fruit and vegetables to our stores while continuing to help our growers through challenges,” Aldi Australia customer interactions director Adrian Christie opined.
“Heavy rain continues to cause substantial disruption in important growing locations across the country, and storms and hail have badly disrupted the growing season, which is why some product may appear different on the outside,” he said.