If you thought that carrot and tomato prices were currently particularly high, brace yourself because it is set to get worse. Severe rain in several provinces, including Gauteng, North West, Free State and Mpumalanga, may drive vegetable prices through the roof until April.
Dr Johnny van der Merwe, a senior lecturer in agricultural economics at North-West University, says the price surge is because most producers are negatively affected by high rainfall which limits supplies to markets.
Carrot prices have already increased by 22% to R3,64 per kilogram last week, mostly due to the high demand locally and abroad, says Van der Merwe.
The higher vegetable prices will, most likely, be in place until April with lower volumes also expected.
Also, tomato prices increased by 24% week-on-week to R5,82 per kilogram. Van der Merwe says, based on market indications, this might pick up slightly this coming week due to current high demand.
Producers may also see lower production, especially in the northern parts of Mzansi, due to constant rainfall.
However, the Western Cape is now coming into production, which can put pressure on prices in this region, he says.
Onion and garlic prices
Meanwhile onion prices decreased by 3% to R3,84 per kilogram last week.
“Volumes are still increasing on the market, which is likely to stay on a higher level over the next two months, at least. Prices can therefore remain sideways this next month, but higher expected demand can support prices slightly in March and April again,” he says.
The other vegetable prices that increased are for cabbages, garlic and spinach. Cabbage is now trading at about R2,34 per kilogram while garlic prices were at R97,12 per kg.
Van der Merwe expects the garlic price to stay on an upward trend as volumes will most likely decrease on the markets. Spinach prices, on the other hand, doubled last week to R4,85 per kilogram due to lower available volumes.
In the longer term, the agricultural economist expects prices to continue increasing as volumes become scarcer on the markets.
What about fruit prices?
Meanwhile fruit prices are also impacted by the weather, which has resulted in low volumes as some producers can’t get to the lands at the moment.
Van der Merwe says banana prices traded at about R5,95 last week, but there are significantly lower volumes this week currently supporting prices. Apples and pears traded at R10,04 and R8,32 per kilogram respectively.
“The longer-term price expectation for both these commodities are downwards with apple volumes expected to increase in March. Pear volumes have already increased on the markets,” he says.
Oranges are trading at R8,84 per kilogram while avocados decreased to R30,80 per kilogram. Avocado volumes will increase significantly over the next three months, which can put severe pressure on prices.
Mangoes are currently trading at about R10,91, pineapples at R14,82, peaches on R10,83, lemons at R10,34 and blueberries at R160,36 per kilogram last week.