‘There’s just no room to move’: cafe owner warns small businesses will disappear without local customer support

From farm gate to cafe sign, inflation and the rising cost of living are wreaking havoc for entrepreneurs and consumers, with coffee and veggies tarnishing the latest produce.

Lettuce prices rose through the roof earlier this month to reach $11 a pop, leading some major fast food restaurants to use cabbage as a substitute.

Punnets of some berries now sell for up to $13.

But farmers and entrepreneurs say it’s not just lettuce and berries that are taking a hit, it’s everything on the menu and in the store.

Tolua Scott, owner of a cafe on the Gold Coast, said she wanted to move one of her three outlets to solar energy to help her survive.

“We’ve been through that for over two and a half years and incurred significant debt to get through it, so we have to pass it on.”

A Gold Coast cafe owner says inflation is driving up the cost of doing business.Delivered

From coffee to wombok

Ms Scott said she had been told it was unlikely the price would be delayed for several years and her products, including coffee, would be affected.

“Everything has gone up in price,” she said.

Fruit and vegetable wholesaler Don Meers of Q Growers Market says his point of sale is not doing much better.

He started his career in the 1980s and said he had never seen such high prices.

“We will be in this situation for the next six to eight weeks,” he said.

A tub of strawberries for $12.99.
Thumbtacks with strawberries on sale for $12.99.ABC news: Kimberley Bernard.

Farmers are in pain

Mr Meers said items that were no ordinary staples had risen in price, with six womboks costing the wholesaler $90.

“Six months ago we paid $2 for cabbage and sell it for $2.99, now it’s $11 and we have to put it on the shelves for $10.99 to sell,” he said.

“We have lost the seedlings of everything, so our main suppliers have no products.

Homegrown lettuce with a lettuce sign.
Lettuce in some stores is now $11 each.ABC Eyre Peninsula: Bernadette Clarke

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