Aussie consumers can expect to see the price of fruit and vegetables fall in a matter of weeks following months of crippling produce prices plaguing supermarket shelves.
Retail expert Gary Mortimer told Yahoo News Australia the end is in sight and the cost of fresh veg including lettuce, capsicum and zucchini, among others, will soon drop back down to more normal price ranges.
"I suspect as we move on to the end of August and September we will start to see those prices fall naturally," Prof Mortimer revealed, attributing part of the reason to the warmer weather.
The sky-high prices we've seen have been been attributed to the catastrophic floods we saw in parts of southeast Queensland and northern NSW earlier this year, which wiped out crops and farmland.
The impact of flooding influenced the price of lettuce, in particular, with prices rising as high as $11 or $12.
Other leafy vegetables including broccoli and bok choy were also impacted "but we’re now coming out of that," Prof Mortimer explained.
Farmers in those regions have now had time to "re-establish those fields" and re-plant seeds to grow new crops.
"It’s been over six months of growing, and we’re starting to warm up now," he said.
"Warmer months tend to increase the rate of growth which means we will start to see more products infiltrate into the supermarkets and prices will fall."
Lower prices starting to appear
Prof Mortimer said there are two competing factors that generally pose a risk to fresh produce — one is seasonality and the other is a natural disaster.
And this year's harvest has seen both.
But some supermarkets are already showing signs of hope with lower prices already starting to appear.
Jana Bowden, a professor in marketing & consumer behaviour, shared a photo on Twitter showcasing an iceberg lettuce selling for $4 in Coles.
Wow. Lettuce making its way back on to the menu at $4 🥬 🥗 pic.twitter.com/KSgjSjzTS9
— Professor Jana Bowden (@ProfConsumers) August 8, 2022
"Locally there’s been some evidence of prices falling for some produce categories," she told Yahoo News Australia.
"We are seeing lettuce down to $4 from highs of $12 just a matter of weeks ago."
Other vegetables that'll drop in price in as many weeks include capsicum, zucchini, broccoli. The cost of pumpkin and potato will also fall, Prof Mortimer confirmed.
"There’s been a shortage of potatoes again hit by flooding in that Gatton, southeast QLD flooding event, but they’re now coming back into the market," he said.
But shortages of corn and tomato will most likely remain and, of course, seasonally challenges still remain.
"Shoppers are accustomed to seeing apples getting more expensive in summer because they’re hard to come by, they’re really a winter product," Prof Mortimer explained.
Typical summer fruits become available at reasonable prices including peaches, nectarines and mango, thanks to the seasonal shift.
"We will continue to see prices lift and fall based on seasonality and we will continue to cross our fingers to hope there is no major weather event between now and the summer months," Prof Mortimer said.
Aussies 'still under pressure'
Despite this, Prof Bowden said Aussies are "still under pressure" and the higher-than-before checkout prices "is likely to continue".
The cost of groceries is still up 5.9 per cent on June last year, according to the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS), although some items are on the decline.
"Prices remain at near historic highs on a global scale and the factors that drive prices up in the first place still remain — such as a bleak economic outlook, war, and issues such as high fertiliser prices...," she told Yahoo News Australia.
"Celebrating consistently low produce prices at the supermarket checkout looks like it’s still a long way off for consumers."
How shoppers can save money
In June, Woolworths introduced a Price Freeze on more than 200 essential grocery items until the end of the year to help ease the rising cost of living pressures, in addition to its Price Drop programme which was introduced in May.
Meanwhile, since January, Coles has reduced prices on over 1,000 items across its range including meats and pantry staples.
Citrus fruits are also in abundance and have been slashed in price thanks to a good harvest season.
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