PRICES for fruits and vegetables may be up but the sectors are still feeling the drag of increased costs due largely to sourcing labour.
ANZ's latest Agri Commodity Report says since just prior to COVID in 2020, retail vegetable prices have increased by more than 8 per cent, while fruit prices have actually fallen slightly, despite some quarter to quarter volatility.
In comparison, the prices of fruit as an input to manufacturing has risen by almost 20pc in the same period, and vegetable prices have risen 2pc.
ANZ Food, Beverage and Agribusiness Insights director Madeleine Swan said while manufacturing input prices are not a direct indicator of farmgate prices, and will also reflect a lack of cheaper imports, it does provide a rough guide to what prices farmers are receiving.
"The Australian horticulture industry has faced more challenges than most agricultural sectors over the past two years," Ms Swan said.
"The seasonal worker shortage has been the topic of most attention, as the federal government's agricultural visa scheme has sought to provide a greater inflow of workers.
"Global freight shortages, and in particular refrigerated, both sea and air-based, have also impacted the ability of Australian producers to export a range of fruit products, as well as increasing the cost of many cheaper fruit and vegetable products imported into Australia."
But she said seasonally, 2021/22 is shaping up to be a strong year for production in a range of commodities.
"Recent rain and hail events have impacted some production areas, particularly in South Australia and the Lachlan Valley in New South Wales however, with the full impact not yet certain," Ms Swan said.
"At the same time, a mild winter is expected to lead to increase fruit fly numbers in Victoria and while the state government has allocated funding towards management, fruit fly is still expected to impact production.
"In particular, with mango production ramping up in northern Australia total forecast production is expected to be up on last year's results."
"Avocado production has surged in both Australia and New Zealand, with many producers now stating that they are selling produce for under production value"
"Almond and macadamia producers are expecting a strong season as a lack of almond supply from California had boosted prices - however recent rains in California is likely to see prices return to normal in the new year."
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