There has been some confusion around the cause of the recent significant price increase of tomatoes with a number of commentators pointing the finger at Tropical Cyclone Debbie and associated weather events.
Growcom can categorically rule out Cyclone Debbie as a factor in the recent price rises. Data obtained from the Brisbane Produce Market through the AUSMARKET market information services clearly shows that there has actually been an increase in supply of tomatoes since the cyclone and it is significantly higher than this time last year.
It is important to note that while supply has not been affected, wholesale prices have more than doubled compared with what they were at this time last year. Tomatoes have increased from an average price of $34.60 per 10kg before the cyclone to an average price of $62.50 per 10kg after the event, despite an additional 60 tonnes coming through the markets.
The Bowen region would normally only supply a very small number of tomatoes at this time of year with its crop usually only hitting the market floor around the end of May. It is illogical to be attributing any price rises to the cyclone and associated weather events.
Growcom and farmer members are disappointed that the impact of Cyclone Debbie is being blamed for price increases. A whole range of factors influence the wholesale prices of fruit and vegetable commodities including quality and demand-related factors.
The Bowen growers are concerned that hyping up the impact of the cyclone is potentially scaring away backpackers and other workers from the region and they are keen to stress that while they suffered huge financial losses, they are only three weeks behind their normal planting schedule.
While prices might be high for tomatoes at the moment, there are many times of the year where the price is below the cost of production so it all evens out in the end. The best thing consumers can do is to simply continue to buy and support all of our growers.