Impact of vegetable prices on broader economy is misleading

30 Apr, 2011 02:00 AM
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Claims that higher vegetable prices are having a long-term impact on living costs across the broader Australian economy are misleading according to AUSVEG.

AUSVEG Communications and Public Affairs Manager, William Churchill, this afternoon labelled the speculation as misleading to the everyday consumer, pointing out that CPI figures released yesterday that show a 16 per cent rise in vegetable prices only apply to the March 2011 quarter; a time when the industry was suffering in the midst of a serious national disaster.

“What we saw in the early part of 2011 was a temporary price spike in a number of vegetable product lines which were affected with extreme floods influencing production up and down the east coast of Australia, as well as seasonal variations that are normal in the first quarter of a year,” Mr Churchill said.

“Since that time prices have normalised substantially and we anticipate that as prices continue to normalise in the short term that consumers will actually have access to some genuine bargain buying opportunities,” he said.

Claims that higher vegetable prices were underpinning longer term inflationary pressures were reported widely in the national media this morning, but Mr Churchill said that putting the blame on vegetable pricing data from a period where there had been some unusual weather affects on supply would be jumping the gun.

“If anything, the IBIS World report released around February this year which predicted price increases of up to 70 per cent in the aftermath of the floods, has been shown so far to be incredibly inaccurate,” Mr Churchill said.

“All the reports we are getting from the produce markets around Australia and from leading growers is that prices have stabilised for the majority of product lines,” he said.

“In some parts of Australia, we are even getting reports of oversupply, such as in Queensland and Victorian markets, which means bargains for many consumers at the retail level in the immediate period ahead.”

“I want to assure the Australian public that the vegetable growing community is doing all that it can. Vegetable growers are price takers, not price makers in the market, and it’s important that we set the record straight when it comes to market conditions like these and appreciate that these figures relate to the early part of the year and are not indicative of current market conditions.”

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