Coles boss reveals when produce 'crisis' will end

·News Reporter
·3-min read

A Coles representative has warned about ongoing fresh produce shortages, revealing which items shoppers may not see on shelves for a while.

The shockwave of produce shortages has been felt around the country, with customers spotting lettuce for as much as $12 each, while some fast food retailers have been forced to integrate cabbage into their recipes.

Wild weather overseas has affected the supply of certain vegetables, with damage to chilli crops leading to a shortage of Sriracha sauce.

Similarly, supply issues are being caused by unfavourable weather conditions in Australia, which Coles’ Chief Operating Officer Matt Swindells describes as a “double whammy” faced by the industry.

Empty produce shelf in a Coles store
Berries, beans and lettuce have been hit hardest by Coles' supply issues. Source: Getty Images

“The first has been the floods that we all remember that went through south-east Queensland, northern NSW. That damaged crops but it also stopped the farmers being able to plant,” Mr Swindells told Nine’s Today.

“That is then being compounded with one of the coldest winters in decades. So the crops that we have managed to get into the ground, they're not growing as fast as they normally would do,” he added.

Mr Swindells revealed that shortages of lettuce, berries and beans will likely last “a few weeks”.

How long will the shortages last?

During his appearance on Today, Mr Swindells said that vegetable supplies and product prices are currently “under pressure”.

“Produce is an area that when supply is stronger... the price is low and so through this period, you’ve seen availability challenges combined with high prices,” he said.

“The berries will recover quicker but the lettuce is quite delicate as a product to grow, so that might take a little bit longer.”

“Our produce team were up in the flood-affected regions at the very beginning and again last week working and talking to all of our suppliers,” Mr Swindells said, adding that Coles is working with suppliers to “give them security and surety that we’re going to have a great business for the future and get through this crisis together.”

Damaged lettuce crop; Man walking out of a Coles store
Mr Swindells revealed that Coles' produce teams are working closely with growers to navigate the shortages after crops were destroyed. Source: Getty Images

Coles reveals products in stock this season

Mr Swindells told Today that “there is still plenty of citrus, plenty of apples, pears, and grapes” in stock and said that “you don't have to come away from being healthy”.

Coles also provided Yahoo News with a list of produce that is readily available and stocked in stores:

  • Avocados - 3 for $4 nationally

  • Navel oranges - $2.90 per kg in NSW; 3kg bag of navels in VIC at $4.90

  • Packham Pears $2.50 in NSW and SA

  • Australian Green Kiwifruit - 5 for $3 in VIC

  • Brown Onions - $1.00 per kg in WA, $1.50 per kg in SA, QLD and NSW (from Friday)

  • Carrots - $2.00 per kg in NSW, VIC, QLD, WA and SA (from Friday)

  • Sweet Potatoes - $2.00 per kg in SA and Tasmania (from Friday)

  • Brushed Potatoes - $3.00 for 2kg in QLD and NSW (from Friday)

Mr Swindells also urged customers to consider hearty in-season vegetables this winter: “Pumpkin is cheap, when it is cold and wintry, pumpkin and pumpkin soup will go quite far, the kids will love it and still get their healthy fruit and veg,” he said.

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