Queensland’s storms and floods to impact fresh produce

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 31st January 2013

Heavy rain and flooding caused by Cyclone Oswald in Queensland has had an immediate impact on produce availability, with Queensland-sourced vegetable supplies from mid-April to late May expected to be in very short supply.  

Eroded farmland and stranded trucks have ruined many Queensland crops and will diminish fresh produce supplies, according to Fresh Food Economist and CEO of the SOCExchange, Franco Lagudi.

Mr Lagudi said that while the extent of the damage can not be assessed for another few days, capsicums, beans and early tomatoes which are particularly sourced from the Bundaberg region are expected to be very limited in supply. Subsequently, Mr Lagudi predicts that this will force supermarket prices up.

“Retailers will now be relying on South Australia for capsicums and Victoria for beans. Supply from these regions should sustain demand in the immediate future. However, it is further down the track that is unpredictable,” Mr Lagudi said.

“Retailers will definitely feel the struggle to fill shelves with good quality produce from the Queensland region during the mid to late autumn period,” Mr Lagudi added.

Meanwhile, Queensland’s horticulture body Growcom expects that many fruits sourced from the Gayndah and Mundubbera regions will be in short supply due to orchards which have been uprooted by the strength of the wind.  

Initial damage estimates in the Chinchilla, Mundubbera, Gayndah, Bundaberg, Stanthorpe, Lockyer Valley, Fassifern Valley, Gympie, Sunshine Coast, Logan, Kalbar and Boonah regions are estimated to be millions of dollars, but it will be a few weeks before the full extent of the damage can be determined.

Damage estimates include outright loss of fruit and vegetable crops, loss of orchard trees, lack of access to paddocks for harvesting, delays to planting new crops, loss of quality in harvested crops, loss of farm infrastructure and a loss of skilled workers due to cessation of work.