Vegetable grower Anthony Staatz, of Koala Farms, Lake Clarendon.
Vegetable grower Anthony Staatz, of Koala Farms, Lake Clarendon.

Why you’re paying more for vegetables at the supermarket

VEGETABLE growers with access to water are reaping the benefits of a fresh produce shortage.

With the drought taking a toll across much of Australia, market prices for vegetables have jumped considerably.

But Lake Clarendon vegetable grower Anthony Staatz said it was only the growers with access to water running a full production who were benefiting.

"It's ridiculous money. If you're running a full production and getting the returns its crazy."

He had heard of tomato growers receiving upwards of $80 a box at the markets.

"All soft vegetables have been expensive," he said.

"There's a genuine shortage, so values are high."

Just this week, baby cos lettuce sold at the Brisbane Markets for $14 a box, up $4/carton from November.

Large gourmet tomatoes have increased by nearly 60 per cent in two months, with growers receiving an average of $34.40 a carton this week, compared to $21.60/carton in November.

Back in August, growers got $16/carton.

In a statement released by Growcom, CEO David Thompson said prices for fresh produce remained above what consumers were used to paying.

"The heat in particular has resulted in less produce of a high-quality reaching wholesale markets and our grocery aisles," he said.

However, Mr Staatz said the shortage wouldn't be an issue if additional water supplies had been sourced for the Lockyer Valley 10 years ago.

 

PRODUCE: Vegetable farmer Anthony Staatz, with government water meter near his crop of Cos Lettuce, owner of Koala Farms, at Lake Clarendon in the Lockyer Valley. PHOTO: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian
PRODUCE: Vegetable farmer Anthony Staatz, with government water meter near his crop of Cos Lettuce, owner of Koala Farms, at Lake Clarendon in the Lockyer Valley. PHOTO: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian

 

"It just lends itself to a lack of water infrastructure," he said.

"It brings home the need for this water infrastructure stuff, like a pipeline back into the Lockyer Valley.

"If that had been done 10 years ago, we would have another four to five years of water left before we got to this scenario."

Growers and irrigators have been working towards a water plan for the Lockyer Valley, which will introduce allocations to local producers.

After a year of negotiation, Growcom has welcomed the amended Moreton Water Plan which will give Central Lockyer farmers a modern water management system to help grow their businesses in the New Year.

Mr Thompson said Growcom, the Queensland Farmers' Federation and growers in the Lockyer Valley should be rightly proud of the role they played in the delivery of the amended Moreton Water Plan.

"Water is the most important input into the $2.8 billion Queensland horticulture industry. Having access to a secure water supply is of paramount importance to all growers," Mr Thomson said.

The project is a major boost for Lockyer Valley irrigators, which will help futureproof and expand farming across the region.


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