AU: Demand drives up price of tomatoes

A slow production season along with increased transport costs have left tomato supplies down across Queensland and consumers are footing the bill.

Gourmet tomatoes have averaged about $10 per kg and truss tomatoes about $15 per kg in stores for the past few months.

Tomatoes were fetching around $12-$16 for a 10kg carton at the Brisbane markets, but have been above $30 for the past few months.

Local growers have been able to keep their prices more competitive with gourmet variety ranging from $5 to $7 per kg and truss about $9.

Mother-of-two Melissa Thom said she always bought her fresh produce from the markets as a way to beat price hikes.

"It just makes the weekly budget stretch a lot further," she said.

"The fruit and vegies are fresher, cheaper and we are supporting local business."

Natures Organic Warehouse farmers Terry and Karen Stott have held stalls at the Palm Beach and the Gold Coast Turf Club markets for the past six years.

Mr Stott said people were looking for quality at the farmers' markets.

"The quality cannot be beat, it comes direct from the grower to you," he said.

"It is another bonus that the cost can be kept down as local growers don't have as many overheads, or transport costs, but the thing that keeps people coming is the quality."

Growcom CEO Alex Livingstone said supply and demand was the cause of the price hike.

"There is a high demand for tomatoes, especially coming in to the summer season, but the supply is low so prices go up," he said.

Mr Livingstone said the closure of the state's biggest grower SP Exports was a factor in the high prices but it was mainly due to a poor production season.

"Growers had issues in the Bowen area with many crops not producing what they should have," he said.

Mr Livingstone said consumers could expect to continue to pay high prices for a few months.

Source: www.goldcoast.com.au

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