The world was stunned when Australian fast food chains were forced to change their burgers as vegetable prices rose. Now they face a new threat.
Australia’s vegetarian crisis made international headlines after it forced KFC and other fast food giants to swap lettuce for cabbage on their iconic burgers.
But with cabbage prices also skyrocketing to $9 and more, there are fears that it could also quickly become a luxury few can afford.
Whole cabbages are currently out of stock at Woolworths, and half cabbages sell for $3.50 each, or $5.20 for half an organic green cabbage.
At Coles, a whole organic cabbage costs $10, while mini red and Drumhead cabbages are listed at $5.90 each, and at Harris Farm a whole cabbage will set you back an eye-watering $11.29.
For now, Australian fast food chains have failed to respond to the spike in cabbage prices, with Craveable Brands – including Red Rooster, Porto and Chicken Treat – ominously confirming that “there is currently no problem with our supply of cabbage/salad mix”, while KFC is in this stage also had no news.
But with the price of cabbage and other green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, there is a fear that they too will soon be pushed off the menu.
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National Farmers Federation economist Ash Salardini told news.com.au that Australia was currently experiencing “food inflation” across the board, due to a range of factors, including rising fuel and power prices and labor shortages. .
Mr Salardini said that food inflation is now slightly above the general rate of inflation, with the price of some items in particular showing specific increases.
He said the sudden spike in demand for cabbage likely helped drive costs up, along with other local factors.
“When lettuce got expensive, people started using cabbage, and prices have gone up for that reason,” he said.
“Food is also seasonal – currently it’s the right season in northern NSW and Queensland, but it’s too cold in Victoria, and flooding and other disturbances for staff have limited supply.
“We probably won’t have the same problem in two to three months, but overall, while some things are going up now, others are the cheapest they’ve ever been.”
Mr Salardini pointed out that avocados now cost about $5 per pound, while bananas cost $2 per pound — two items that had risen to ridiculous levels in the past before falling again.
“Unless something else happens, we should have a more normal supply in two to three months, and as most vegetables are domestically produced, once the domestic issues are resolved, we will be back on track,” he said. .
“The big problem, however, is staffing numbers, with prices increasing because we have fewer people picking and packing.”
He added that global wheat shortages meant that prices for products such as bread and pasta had already risen and would remain high for six to 12 months, while a shortage of milk was also on the map for the next six to 12 months.
Meanwhile, Shaun Lindhe, spokesperson for the Australian vegetable growers’ trade association, AUSVEG, told news.com.au that the pain will continue for months at least.
“There have been several significant floods and downpours in key winter vegetable growing regions, particularly in southern Queensland, resulting in current shortages of many crops supplied from the region at this time of year,” said Mr Lindhe.
“Growers across the country are also experiencing sharp increases in production costs, with global economic factors driving increases in production costs, including fertilizers, fuel, chemicals due to global shipping problems and the war against Ukraine. as wage pressures due to the labor shortage in Australia.
“These issues are not isolated to individual crops; As South Queensland is an important winter vegetable growing region, these conditions affect several of the region’s crops, including lettuce, broccoli, beans and tomatoes.”
Mr. Lindhe urged customers to remember that farmers are in serious trouble right now.
“It may take a few months for supply to increase once other regions have increased their supply, but it’s important to remember that production pressures on growers are likely to last longer,” he said.
“Growers are currently going through a tough time, facing emotional and financial stress from weather conditions and rising production costs.
“We are urging consumers to continue to support growers where they can and buy fresh produce when available from supermarkets, greengrocers or markets – they are really struggling, so important that we have consumer support to help local growers. support, which in turn supports regional and rural communities.”
Broccoli in the firing line
Cabbage is not the only one with price increases at the moment, other leafy vegetables, especially broccoli, are also affected by significant increases.
According to data on movements in selected fruit and vegetable prices on Melbourne Wholesale Markets, published by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, the price of broccoli has risen sharply since May.
The trend is also visible in the supermarket chains, which sell for $11.90 per kilo at Coles and $13.10 per kilo at Woolies.
Rising broccoli prices are attributed to a lack of supply, caused by disruptions in Queensland in particular.
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