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Heavy rains continue to hit tomato and potato supply, causing a surge in prices

Business Insider SA
fresh produce
Tomatoes are 21% more expensive, while potatoes prices are up 39%.
  • Following weeks of heavy rainfall, prices for staple fresh produce, tomatoes and potatoes, have skyrocketed.
  • The wet weather has wreaked havoc on harvests, with fewer tomatoes and potatoes arriving at fresh produce markets.
  • Tomato prices shot up 21%, while potato prices surged 39% in one week.
  • If the rain persists, that may bode badly for prices going into 2022.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Tomato prices in South Africa have skyrocketed once again after major producing regions experienced heavy rainfall over the past two months.

The price of the fruit surged 21% to R5,40 per kilogram in one week, following wet weather that affected harvests. The supply shock resulted in fresh produce markets around the country receiving significantly fewer tomatoes, Johnny van der Merwe, managing director of agricultural information group Agrimark Trends (AMT), said in his weekly video that tracks market prices for fresh produce.

“The latest tomato price increased by 21% to R5,40 per kilogram last week, which was due to a 19% decrease in supply levels,” Van der Merwe said.

If we continue to have a wetter climate, tomato prices will likely continue to increase next year, he said.

Tomato volumes in the country's six largest markets halved from 1,800 pallets on 26 November to 928 pallets by 2 December, Clive Garret, marketing manager for tomato producer ZZ2 told Business Insider South Africa.

During October and November, major producing region Limpopo experienced more rainfall than usual for the time of year, he said.

“There will be other producing regions like the Western Cape coming into production shortly, so it is difficult to predict what will happen with prices,” Garret said about the price outlook for the fruit.

Given that tomatoes are a staple food in the country, any drop in supply is usually immediately felt as prices spike while demand remains constant, said Garret.

Tomatoes are not the only staple food that has seen a significant price spike. Potatoes also saw a massive increase in prices.

For a 10 kilogram bag of potatoes, consumers are now paying R41,29, a surge of 39%, Van Der Merwe said in his weekly update.

“When we look into the latest price movements in the vegetable industry, we saw the potato prices increasing by 39%, as was expected last week, to R41,29 per 10 kilogram bag. This was mostly due to higher rainfall and lower volumes available on the markets last week,” Van der Merwe said.

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