One of Australia’s big lettuce producers expects prices for the in-demand vegetable to ease from next week.
John Said, the chief executive of vegetable producer and supplier Fresh Select, said the recent heavy rains have had a huge impact on the market.
“We’ve had two floods. The first one a while ago has saturated our soils and made it very hard for us to plant … A second flood not long ago completely wiped out all the crops we had in the ground,” he told AAP.
Mr Said said replanting is causing a massive supply gap, with the only lettuce harvestable being the ones that survived the floods.
“We’re seeing these price hikes because of supply pressure,” he told AAP.
The farmer has been surprised by the high prices being fetched, with a box of 12 lettuces selling to retailers for up to $100.
In some supermarkets lettuces are costing between $10 and $12 each, with some shelves cleared of lettuce entirely.
The Victorian producer hoped drier weather will see the supply boosted.
“Clearly there are just not enough lettuce around, hopefully we will see some reprieve next week.”
But the peak body for Australian vegetable growers AusVeg is warning consumers that prices are likely to remain high because of production pressures and poor weather.
“Cost of production pressures have been upon us for 12 or 18 months – it’s been on the increase for some time,” AusVeg’s national public affairs manager Tyson Cattle told AAP.
He said the sharp increases of the past few months have been driven by weather events in the food bowl of Queensland.
Mr Cattle warned consumers that prices are likely to stay high while the cost of production issues continue.
“We will not be going back to prices that we saw in pre-COVID levels of cheap fresh produce,” Mr Cattle said.