Cash-strapped consumers will have to pay considerably more for carrots and onions this November. Chances are that prices will only stabilise early in 2023, says agricultural economist Dr Johnny van der Merwe.
Van der Merwe is the managing director of AMT, an agricultural market trends analysis company. He says elevated prices are on the back of lower vegetable volumes and a higher consumer demand.
Carrot prices, specifically, tend to peak over December, explains Van der Merwe.
“[This is] usually due to a higher consumer demand. So, we are expecting carrots to get expensive over December, especially considering the low volumes [of carrots coming in the market] at the moment.”
As it stands, farmers can collect between R4.69 per kg and R4.81 per kg for their carrots. While carrot prices have decreased by 50% in the last week, it is still 118% higher than a year ago. “Carrots are already on a relatively high level – not necessarily as high as previous years, but we can expect the prices to remain on a high level.”
Shocking onion prices
At R10.21 per kilogram, onions are also trading at much higher levels than a year before. This, says Van der Merwe, is a new record and a whopping 264% higher than a year ago. Class one onions are being sold at R10.51 per kilogram.
“This is due to low volumes and we expect this price to stay on high level towards the end of the year. The price for consumers will stay on a high level as well,” he says.
Potato prices looking good
Meanwhile, potatoes are currently relatively low and could continue trading at these levels in November and December, predicts Van der Merwe.
“[Potatoes] are just above R30 per 10kg. We’ve seen high volumes of plantings this year which is pushing down prices. We are therefore expecting prices to stay on a lower level for the producer and the consumer as well,” he says.
The national average price of potatoes decreased from R36.54 per 10kg to R30.41 per 10kg in the past week. “Our expectation is that prices can stay on current levels towards the end of the year, especially with current high volumes [in the market].”
He adds that price pressure on the producer’s side usually flows through to the consumer. Furthermore, when potatoes are not sold in retail markets, farmers usually carry the cost as they are forced to come down with their prices.
What about tomatoes?
Tomato lovers will have to wait and see what the weather does in the next few weeks. This will have a direct impact on the price consumers have to pay, says Van der Merwe.
Currently, tomatoes are trading at R5.60 per kg. This is about 30% cheaper than a year ago, but it will most likely increase due to higher demand.
Rain patterns, however, might be the biggest price indicator. “If we see a wetter than anticipated season, we can see low volumes coming to the market and prices going up in December. Consumer demand also pushes tomato prices up over the period.
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