Shoppers shock as price of fruit, veggies doubles in CQ

17th April 2017 1:44 PM
UPDATED 18th April 2:45 AM
Stephen Irvine in his Dean St shop. Owner of Dean St Fruit and Veg, Stephen Irvine said the price of tomatoes has doubled in the past two weeks. Allan Reinikka ROK170417aveg2

CYCLONE Debbie has dealt another blow to the region with independent retailers facing an almost two-fold produce price hike in her wake.

The natural disaster is just another hurdle for the fruit and vegetable industry which relies heavily on good weather for prosperity.

Owner of Dean St Fruit and Veg, Stephen Irvine said tomatoes, capsicums, zucchinis and rockmelons would be the hardest hit with a promising yield year stopped in its tracks by the wild weather.

"Most of the tomatoes come from Bowen and they were all wiped out by the Cyclone," Mr Irvine said.

"Bowen was set to have a bumper year with tomatoes and the cyclone come across the coast and that was the end of that.

"The week before last we were paying probably $3.40kg for tomatoes and this week we're paying $6 to $7."

According to the Queensland Farmers Federation, Bowen's vegetable industry copped around $100 million of damage when Debbie made landfall.

Mr Irvine said quality was also a concern. It's estimated 95% of the state's winter supply of capsicums and tomatoes come from cyclone affected regions.

"Then there's the quality of the stock is not all that good either," Mr Irvine said.

"The stuff we're getting at the moment, some of it looks old but it's not - it's just weather worn."

As for how long the price hike will last, Mr Irvine said "how long's a piece of string?".

Even the major supermarkets aren't immune to bad weather, but it's unclear if their prices will rise along with independent retailers.

"Two weekends ago Woolworths here had no fruit or veg because they couldn't get their trucks up," Mr Irvine said.

"Their distribution centre in Brisbane was hit by water.

"It's tough for everyone at the moment."

Mr Irvine said his store strived to be competitive with major supermarkets and encouraged the community to continue to buy local produce.

Woolworths were contacted for comment on whether their produce prices would increase, but could only provide a vague response.

"Woolworths works closely with our local growers and suppliers throughout the year and we will continue to do so to evaluate any flow on impacts to supply following the recent weather events in central Queensland," a spokesperson said.

A more detailed update is expected from the supermarket giant later this week.