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High vegetable prices to remain as Australian farmers struggle with costs and labor shortages

One of Western Australia's largest vegetable growers says soaring production costs mean shoppers need to keep paying high prices for vegetables or risk having only imported frozen produce available in stores. Monte Farms grows a range of vegetables including lettuce, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach and cabbage on farms north of Perth.

Despite record prices, Luciano Monte said his company had taken the unprecedented step of halving its plantings this year due to ongoing labor shortages and high input costs such as fertilizer and fuel.

"The price we are getting now, that's what we need to survive on," he said. "[Consumers] need to get used to it or they'll have to get frozen product or food from foreign countries. Fertilizer has had a 100 per cent increase, fuel is up by about 70 to 80 per cent, labor has gone through the roof — you're paying up to $34 an hour.”

Monte said high input costs created too much risk because there was a chance he would be unable to source labor for harvest.


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