A tougher trading environment for growers has fuelled a 4.0 per cent decrease in vegetable prices in the March 2013 quarter. 

The Consumer Price Index for vegetables, which was updated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) late last week, has shown a fall in vegetable prices for the past two successive quarters.

“Prices over the past two quarters indicate without a doubt that in early 2013 vegetables remain extremely affordable for the consumer,” said AUSVEG Manager of Industry Development and Communications, Andrew White.

“When you consider that prices have only gone up by 2.4 per cent over the past four years when inflation has increased by 10.7 per cent over that same period, vegetables stand out as both excellent value and a healthy choice for Australians but underlines the challenges facing many growers,” Mr White said.

“Australian grown vegetables are among the highest quality produce anywhere in the world, so we’re not surprised that following an increase in the quantity sold throughout 2011-12, the first quarter of 2013 has seen a drop in prices at the retail level,” he said.

“We’d encourage consumers to act quickly to take advantage of the high volumes of great quality produce that are keeping average vegetable prices down at modest levels,” Mr White said.

AUSVEG is the National Peak Industry Body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.

According to the ABS the greatest decreases in price this quarter occurred in Melbourne and Hobart, where vegetable prices were down by 7.8 per cent and 8 per cent respectively.

Mr White said that while prices were up 5.3 per cent on an annual basis, over the past 23 years vegetable prices had increased by less than the inflation rate.

“What we have seen over a long period of time is that vegetables continue to represent fantastic value for the consumer.  If you consider that since 1989 when the price index for vegetables was first recorded, vegetable prices have only gone up 54.8 per cent while inflation has gone up 88.9 per cent in that time, you have to marvel at the ability of growers to maintain their business viability,” said Mr White.

“This price drop is ultimately good news for consumers and if that means we can move greater volumes of vegetables at this difficult time for many in the industry, then that can be one plus for growers as well, particularly in the current climate of oversupply to the fresh market,” he said.

“These are challenging times for the vegetable industry right now, with cash costs up over the past three years and input costs continuing to rise, so we’d call on consumers to continue supporting local suppliers and show support for the Australian vegetable industry,” Mr White said.

MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew White, Manager of Industry Development and Communications, AUSVEG

Phone: (03) 9822 0388, Mobile: 0409 989 575, E-mail: andrew.white@ausveg.com.au