Prices for fruit and vegetables in Brazil are the highest they have ever been, according to Richard Avery from Brazilian importer/exporter Absolute Finest Produce.

"For instance at this time of the year limes are usually R$1.99, but last week they were priced at R$8.90 in the supermarkets, this week R$9.99 and low quality and imported products also are expensive, take asparagus, which is usually R$11.99, it's R$19.99 this week. This is down to many factors, the climate being the biggest one."

The climate has effected almost every product this year, in many areas of Brazil there have been droughts, this goes right back to the start of the year, January and February are usually wet months but there was no rain whatsoever, which means there was no water for irrigation.

Lack of water has lead to small, low quality fruits being produced. Avery says volumes of some fruit such as mangoes and limes are down as much as 50%.

"We import from other surrounding countries, but with local taxes and higher prices because due to climate issues in these other countries the cost of fruit and vegetables is very high. Most Brazilian consumers cannot afford to pay the increased prices, so people are taking less home with them as they don't have the disposable income available to them," explains Avery

There is hope though, the rains started last weekend but much more is needed as all cites and states are on critical alert for water levels and most states have no water during the night in an attempt to save what little water there is.

"It will gradually get better but it is going to take a lot of time, for instance the mangoes are short at the moment, the main river in the San Franciso Valley doesn't have water so this has caused the delay in seasons starting and if the rains don't come they will have serious issues for the city and especially the growing of the fruits," explains Avery. He says another thing affecting mangoes is that the biggest farms in the north have cut down huge volumes of trees and planted coconuts as the processing industry in Brazil is demanding more and more of this product.

"As in most countries the local markets pretty much dictate the price and now with people giving programmes to growers they realise that there isn't so much risk as there is with just having big volumes of product and selling for low prices, this way with programmes they can also control the prices also with the internal market and give better returns all round rather than taking the risk of having large volumes of fruit with no market."

Now as we enter the most important part of the year, the run up to Christmas, it is becoming difficult to get the sea containers away with certain products and the sizes of fruit that people require. This situation will only rectify itself come the start of next year when demand will be less. This will then have another big effect, people will be looking to push the volumes through by air come December which naturally is going to be another problem.