Australians could be forced to pay $20/kg for fruit as pandemic panic purchases drive up supermarket prices permanently
- Supermarket prices have risen since pandemic panic buying started 18 months ago
- Items that cost more include dried pasta, fresh fruit, long-life milk, and oil
- Seasonal labor shortages are also expected to drive up the cost of fruits and vegetables
Pandemic panic buying could have permanently pushed up the prices of essential items in the supermarket.
A Deakin University study of 7,000 grocery items found that some items had been taken off shelves before the lockdowns were still costing much more than they were in 2019.
The cost of panic-buying favorites like dried pasta is up 15 percent, and long-life milk costs three percent more.
Pandemic panic buying may have permanently pushed up prices of essential items in supermarkets, a Deakin University study has found
Fresh fruit is up seven percent, while oils are up four percent, the study also found.
It has tracked the prices of 7,000 items at Coles and Woolworths for the past three years.
The study authors said other factors contributing to price increases were the shortage of seasonal fruit and vegetable pickers.
Fruit prices are expected to remain high, said Rural Bank agricultural analyst Sean Hickey.
“Growers will have to bear some of the costs, but consumers can expect to pay more,” he said.
Dried pasta was one of the products taken off the shelves during the pandemic and the price has remained 15% higher than before the pandemic
The cherry harvest, which will start in two weeks, threatens with a major labor shortage that is expected to push prices up.
Due to the recent rainfall, part of the cherry harvest will also not be ready on time.
“Prices should reach consumers between $10 and $20/kg, but recent weather could see more lower quality fruit on the shelves, pushing higher quality fruit prices above $20/kg” Hickey said.
National Farmers Horticulture Council executive officer Tyson Cattle also blamed high production costs for rising supermarket prices.
“It is certainly our expectation that fresh produce prices will rise in the very near future and will probably remain at relatively high levels for the foreseeable future,” he said.
He said farmers had a great crop year, but “growers are already feeling the price pressure.”
Fresh fruit costs more than before the pandemic and this Christmas cherry harvest is expected to yield much more expensive fruit
A social media poll also found that nearly all consumers believe the cost of their groceries has risen since the start of the pandemic.
A poll of more than 10,000 people found that 93 percent spend more on groceries, 7News reported.
Overall, Australia’s consumer price index is up 3% in the past three months, partly due to large jumps in fuel costs.
Fuel costs are up 36 percent since April last year and have reached record highs in recent weeks.