Fruit and veg: Price hikes expected

2011-02-04 00:00

CONSUMERS can expect to pay more for fruit and vegetables this year because the heavy rains countrywide have damaged produce and caused shortages.

Farming organisations and food chain stores concur that the recent heavy rains will have an effect not only on the supply and pricing of fruit and vegetables, but also on the quality.

A daily paper recently reported that heavy rains have left much of the fresh produce diseased and infected with fungus.

Robin Barnsley, the president of the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union, said heavy downpours were experienced in the northern parts of the country where potatoes are grown.

“The heavy rains have resulted in the fields becoming waterlogged and farmers cannot get into the fields to maintain them,” Barnsley said.

“The current weather patterns create unfavourable conditions where there is not enough sun and too much moisture, which has caused the crops to grow slowly.

“So there should definitely be a shortage at the market, which will therefore drive the prices up.

“Consumers can definitely expect an increase in the price of farm produce this year as shortages are expected,” he said.

Barnsley said it is important for consumers to know that the prices of fresh produce are not driven by input costs but rather by supply and demand in the market.

“Food prices are also driven by events happening around the country,” he added.

“For instance, in Mpumalanga there was a hailstorm which damaged fruit, leading to increased prices for citrus.”

A buyer for large chain stores, who declined to be named, said, “There are shortages all the time as the produce is affected by the weather.”

Another buyer said that while the recent rains have not affected the supply of fresh produce, they have affected the quality.

“So far there have not been any shortages, but because of the rains we are seeing a decline in the quality of the produce.”

Dawie Maree, an agricultural economist with AgriSA, told The Witness, “The rains will not only cause serious shortages of the harvest, but it will also affect the quality of the products …

“Produce such as fruit will not only be affected this year but they could be affected even by next year.”




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