Banana prices to sky rocket
IPSWICH is already feeling the effects of Yasi, with speculation that banana prices could skyrocket to more than $10 a kilogram.
Australia’s main banana growing areas in north Queensland have been decimated, with an estimated 75 per cent of the $400 million industry affected.
Up to 95 per cent of major production in Tully and Innisfail and a further 80 per cent of the Kennedy area south of Cardwell has been affected.
Encouragingly, only 20 per cent of the Atherton area – which lost 90 per cent of its crop after Cyclone Larry – was badly hit.
It took less than a day for the burden to be passed on to the consumer, with fruit shops in Ipswich forced to fork out $50 per 13kg box of bananas yesterday – up from $16 the day before.
This has resulted in a modest price rise for now, but consumers have been warned to expect things to get worse before they get better.
Yamanto Country Market owner Eddie Habchi said he was told to expect the price to reach $70 to $80 a box over the next few days.
“We’re selling bananas for $5.79 a kilo today,” Mr Habchi said.
“When it gets too dear you’re going to have to lower your margins, otherwise it’s too much for the customer to pay.”
After selling 650kg of bananas at 99c a kilo in the four days leading up to Cyclone Yasi, the Dinmore Fruit Barn was forced to increase its per kilo price to $3.50 yesterday.
Owner Devinder Singh said there had been a rush of customers picking up bananas at a relatively cheap price yesterday, as prices were expected to reach at least $8 a kilo as the effect of the destructive winds up north hit home.
Woolworths yesterday announced that it had increased the shelf price of its bananas to $5.98 per kilo, which it said was in line with the wholesale market price increase.
If there is a positive side to the disaster, it is that banana growers were given more time to prepare for Cyclone Yasi than they were for Larry.
A spokesman from the Australian Banana Growers’ Council said many farmers had the time to strip the leaves, reducing the number of trees knocked down.
This was expected to reduce the recovery period to four months, as opposed to the nine months it took farmers to come back from the destruction caused by Cyclone Larry.
Queensland provides about 95 per cent of Australia’s bananas (2009 figures), compared to the next largest producer, NSW, which grows less than four per cent