'From bad to worse': Coles, Woolworths food prices hit again by wet weather

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·News Reporter
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Australian shoppers are likely to continue paying top dollar for fresh produce due to this week's excessive rain and flooding across parts of NSW.

Aussies have faced price hikes and product shortages for weeks as major supermarkets including Coles, Woolworths and Aldi continue to battle a supply crisis, but it seems the pricing woes could last at least until the end of the year

Photos taken around the country show empty supermarket shelves and never-before-seen produce prices that have been crippling Aussie shoppers for months.

Flooding in NSW and Queensland earlier this year has been attributed to the problems we're facing today, but months later, Australia is facing yet another crisis.

Many supermarkets are experiencing shortages of lettuce and various salad bags. Source: Supplied/ Yahoo News Australia
Many supermarkets are experiencing shortages of lettuce and various salad bags. Source: Supplied/ Yahoo News Australia

"The price of fresh fruit and vegetables is already up 6.7 per cent annually and this price hike was already expected to continue across the rest of this year as a result of increasing supply chain costs that have hit supermarkets hard," Jana Bowden, a Professor in Marketing and Consumer Behaviour, told Yahoo News Australia.

"Growers were just starting to get back on their feet after the last flood crisis across the country which brought planting to a halt. That was then compounded by unseasonal cold weather which slowed up growing."

Prof Bowden said "things have just gone from bad to worse" with the impact of the current flood crisis on crops and greenhouses.

"With some Sydney basin crops potentially obliterated this week due to the floods and extreme weather, produce like leafy vegetables may be in even shorter supply.

"That will put prices up again at the checkout. It will also lead to widespread shortages locally."

Woolworths, Coles, Aldi supermarket signs
Woolworths, Coles and Aldi are monitoring the recent weather events to ensure it does not continue to impact supply chain issues. Source: Getty

Coles, Woolworths, Aldi respond to weather crisis

A spokesperson from Aldi told Yahoo the current devastating weather systems are not impacting major growing areas at this stage.

"We are working with our growers to monitor the situation closely," the spokesperson said.

Last month, Coles’ Chief Operating Officer Matt Swindells said the industry has been faced with a "double whammy" of natural disasters and "one of the coldest winters in decades". This has put a real strain on the industry.

It's believed Coles brought forward deliveries of essential items to stores in areas impacted by floods this week, and all Coles supermarkets are currently open and trading.

Woolworths regularly shares updates with customers on the availability of fresh produce, and it says it will continue to do as the current weather event continues.

The recent flooding and weather has impacted produce in Australia, though supermarkets believe stock levels will be back to normal soon. Source: Getty Images
The recent flooding and weather has impacted produce in Australia, though supermarkets believe stock levels will be back to normal soon. Source: Getty Images

'Little respite on the horizon'

Prof Bowden said the current climate is "a little grim for consumers right now" adding, "there’s real fear among consumers."

"Inflationary pressures are the worst we have seen. Further interest rates hikes are looming. We are caught in a cost of living crisis," she said.

"At the same time demand for fresh produce remains strong and stock outages on fresh produce are increasingly common."

A shift in consumer behaviour has seen shoppers making different decisions, and doing so could help them going forward.

Shoppers are switching to frozen produce and ready-made meals and are experimenting with different recipes.

"Their wallets are being crunched and they’re looking for ways to survive. There’s little respite on the horizon," Prof Bowden said.

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