High tomato prices should 'halve' by July

High tomato prices should 'halve' by July


Horticulture
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Those baulking at tomato prices have Cyclone Debbie to blame after it ripped through prime growing regions across Queensland.

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Those baulking at tomato prices have Cyclone Debbie to blame after it ripped through prime growing regions across Queensland. But don't despair, prices are expected to halve by July.

Typically at this time of year field tomato growers around Bundaberg and Stanthorpe, some of the largest national suppliers of the fruit, hand over the supply reins to their northern counterparts in Bowen. But Cyclone Debbie has caused a break in the chain.

Bowen Gumlu Growers Association president Carl Walker said if the growers in the southern parts of the state hadn't lost crops from the cyclone's heavy rainfall, the severe weather event would have affected their quality and volume.

The ex-cyclone also ripped out the first tomato plantings for Bowen growers this season. Their produce would typically "jump in" to supply the market once down south "jumped out", so consumers are left with soaring market prices, Mr Walker said.

"Normally you would have our southern regions pump out good volume so even though we hadn't started it wouldn't matter too much but because the southern regions got knocked around as well it caused a massive supply problem," he said.

"The majority of tomatoes comes out of the Bowen picking area [at this time] and we were severely impacted by cyclone Debbie, basically it took out three weeks minimum of picking."

He said market price for field-grown tomatoes on Tuesday was sitting around the $8-$10 mark across the east coast, which he described as "nuts".

"At a rough guess, it is about 20,000 cases a day that are not being produced out of this season," he said.

"That is why you are seeing such a spike in the tomatoes. Realistically, the price should be about half of what it is.

"We did say the second and third week of June would be a big price spike and that has come through."

But it is not all doom and gloom, Mr Walker said. "In the next week to 10 days, the three big growers will be coming back online so within two weeks you should see the price on the shelves, I would expect that to halve."

Sydney Morning Herald.

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