FLOODING through the country this week has caused delays in the fruit and vegetable supply chain that are expected to stretch into the Christmas period.
Melbourne restaurant Lee Ho Fook chef Victor Liong, whose restaurant received two Chefs Hats in The Age's Good Food awards last week, is already noticing shortages in locally sourced vegetables.
Mr Liong said "anything that's leafy or green, all the colourful broccoli, the weird kinds of cauliflowers. You think they'd be hardy but they take a lot of time to grow and being flooded rocked them".
This comes after a year filled with periods of inflated vegetable prices.
"At one stage it was more expensive to put vegetables on the menu than protein," Mr Liong said.
This variability of fruits and vegetables is leading the Lee Ho Fook chef to rely on meat-based dishes to win guests over.
"The customer is going to sit there and think - why am I paying $38 for a vegetarian dish?" Mr Liong said.
"We're in the industry of selling stuff that people need every day so the price sensitivity of that is always a point of contention."
Summer fruit and vegetable farmers in flood-affected areas could find soils too wet to begin planting crops for the upcoming harvest.
Chef and owner of Coffs Harbour's Mermaid Beach House Rowan Tihema has noticed a decline in produce quality but is expecting the Christmas harvest to get worse before it gets better.
Mr Tihema said "the real impact of these floods will not be felt immediately but in about 8-10 weeks time. The crops we're eating now were planted 8-10 weeks ago. In terms of scarcity and cost, there's a delayed effect."
"Because of the rain, crops are going in late, they're not germinating as much as they normally would. As a result they're getting reduced yield," Mr Tihema said.
"It's going to be harder to plan for and what we do get is going to be below what we normally receive and cost significantly more."
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