Tomato Prices Surge
It is great to see that most growers, who have toiled through the Covid-Autumn and now Winter are recouping returns lost during the enforced lockdown. During lockdown the motivation of some growers hit a low, it was difficult, and in some cases, it was impossible for work not to fall behind. Plant work and spraying took a major back seat at some properties. Growers that did not have contracts with supermarkets (that remained open during lockdown) were at a huge disadvantage and were at the mercy of buyers who were paying well below true market value. Many growers were at a disadvantage and disproportionately affected compared to growers that had contracts/direct access to supermarkets during lockdown has not gone unnoticed. There is absolutely zero fault at the hands of those growers who had supermarket access (who by the way also had their revenue reduced). They certainly did not make the rules up and have nothing to answer for in my book.
Hopefully the wage subsidy and support to the businesses most effected has been able to help level out the playing field. However, the knock-on effect has now hit some growers twice. Growers that felt under the most pressure reduced inputs in April. This led to the plant balance and the correct health was not maintained to capitalise on the prices occurring right now. What growers are harvesting now is a direct correlation to what happened to the plant when the fruit was just a flower - seven to nine weeks ago. For growers that did take a risk and maintained the correct inputs, they will be satisfied. The gamble has paid off for now.
Covid’s potential Second Wave:
What will happen if there is a second wave of Covid? We are all being told the second wave is not ‘if’ but ‘when’. This is a scary thought as I believe some growers businesses may struggle to survive another lockdown with little or no access to many of their markets like the independent fruit and veggie stores and hospitality industry. This will open pandoras box of large-scale effects, to the suppliers of goods and services and the consumer. Reduced available product will lead to extremely high prices and consumer backlash. It will reduce who can purchase produce like our healthy fresh tomatoes.
Horticulture is a shining light and will be a major part of this economy’s recovery. The opportunities for the protected cropping industry in general are immense. I am extremely grateful, as most of us are to be in a country that has been successful, up to this point in controlling large scale outbreaks of this horrible virus. I especially do not want to catch this virus like most of us, but if we go into another forced lockdown with exactly the same rules and regulations then our economy will be up the proverbial ‘creek without a paddle’. Growing the food is the easy part, the pathway to the consumer is a totally different ball game.
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Article Written and compiled by Stefan Vogrincic, Consultant, Grower2Grower
Article Edited by Marie Vogrincic, Editor, Grower2Grower