In general, fresh fruit and veg supply is headed for more disruption this spring, with continued wet conditions for growing regions across the East coast. With rainfall >50mL recorded in most growing regions over the last couple of weeks, inundated producers have been struggling to deal with water levels on farm. Sharpening labour shortages have also raised concerns for many producers about the ability to harvest crops for this season, potentially driving further crop losses since the start of the pandemic.
Resulting interruptions to picking cycles have resulted in supply disruptions for summer crops overall. Pricing is also up significantly across wholesale floors to end last week for a number of summer produce lines. Strawberries (+40%), Blueberries (+46%), Nectarines (+46%) and Peaches (+56%) are all up drastically on last year, indicating significant challenges for producers looking to supply to market.
While this has been the case, larger producers have been affected to a lower degree overall. With larger production from protected cropping and scale to procure and rotate harvest labour from crop to crop, more diverse and technologically advanced producers have been best placed to navigate harvest more effectively.
With challenges regarding rain and labour set to continue for producers, it’s likely supply and pricing will be affected for some time as we head into 2022. With varying degrees of impact due to levels of exposure, how will this affect the dynamic across producers and categories?