Fruit, vege prices bite into budgets
By BIANCA CLARE
FIRST bananas, now the cost of our favourite summer fruits is on the way up.
The ongoing drought ravaging much of the nation, as well as frosts earlier in the year, is causing fruit and vegetable prices to rise in the lead-up to Christmas.
Shoppers will have to dig deeper for fresh produce, and things may get worse in the new year.
The manager of Mother Natures Top Fruit Market in Coffs Harbour, Leo Cali, said once the season ends for the local harvest of stonefruit after Christmas, shoppers could expect another price hike.
"Fruit growers in Victoria were affected by a severe frost in late September," he said.
"The frost destroyed 300,000 tonnes of fruit."
In the Goulburn Valley, about 50 per cent of the stonefruit crop, including plums, nectarines, peaches and apricots, was wiped out.
The Coffs Coast Advocate has been closely watching the price of fruit and vegetables during the past three weeks and can reveal that shoppers are gradually getting less for their dollars.
At Woolworths Park Avenue yesterday, white peaches were priced at $7.98kg, up from $5.95kg on November 13.
Mangoes, which were $1.88 each two weeks ago, are now $2.99.
Similarly, gourmet tomatoes have doubled in price to $3.98, grapes are almost $9 a kilo and brown onions have hit $3.25kg.
NSW Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald warned shoppers with 94 per cent of NSW drought declared, fresh produce would come at a cost.
"There is no doubt that this drought over summer will come home to every family's dinner table," he said.
"With the four-year drought now one of the worst on record, there are no signs of conditions easing any time before mid-next year."