Leafy vegetables in orchard, Organic Chard At Farm
Spinach farm. (Image: Getty)
  • Frost in Limpopo over the past two weeks has caused damage to some staple vegetables, sending prices up.
  • Spinach was worst affected, with prices increasing by almost 30% in one week.
  • Tomato prices increased 23%, with low sales volumes forecast for August.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Prices for tomatoes, spinach, and peppers, have surged at least 20% in just one week due to frost in the Limpopo region that has caused severe damage to crops.

Last week, volumes of spinach and peppers delivered to fresh produce markets declined. This resulted in prices shooting up for, 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.

During the past few weeks, Limpopo saw extreme instances of frost, which caused damage to crops including spinach, tomatoes, and peppers.

Spinach was the worst affected vegetable among those tracked by AMT over the past week, with the price rocketing 27% to R5.13 per kilogram.

The price of tomatoes, which had begun to stabilise from recent highs caused by excessive rainfall that damaged crops earlier this year, shot up by more than 20% week on week. It’s still much lower than it was in April when it reached R19.52 per kilogram. 

“The latest tomato price increased by 23% to R8.09 per kilogram with the cold weather resulting in volumes to decrease on the markets,” Van Der Merwe said.

Pieter van Zyl, regular market analyst for AMT, said the full impact of the recent frost damage in Limpopo is yet to be felt.

“Last week was the third week in a row where tomato prices have risen, the lower sales volumes [during] the last week or two as a result of frost damage on Limpopo,” he said.

This will likely result in overall lower sales volumes for August, traditionally a month with the highest sales volumes of tomatoes. 

“I think this will change this month because of the frost damage about two weeks ago in Limpopo,” Van Zyl said.

Strike Sebake, managing director of Tshwane Green, a market agent for Tshwane Market, said while farmers are harvesting tomatoes, much of what makes it to the markets are often not of good quality.

Other vegetables that have been seeing price spikes are baby marrows, green beans, chilies, and okra, Sebake said.

Peppers now cost R11.97, a spike of 20%, though still 10% lover than a year ago, mainly helped by sales in June and July that were higher than average, Van Zyl.

“Pepper sales have been moving sideways over the past three weeks, however last week, the price rose quite sharply; many [were] damaged due to the frost … in Limpopo, and late last week, producers sent fewer products to the markets,” Van Zyl said.

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