ABARES reports price increase of fresh produce due to drop in overseas labour

A news report released by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has predicted an increase in prices for certain horticultural produce. This increase is expected to last till late 2021 due to a shortage of overseas labour.

The report focuses on horticulture in the March quarter with the affected produce listed as summer vegetables, stone fruit, pome fruit and table grapes.

ABARES forecasts the price for these will increase between 7 per cent to 29 per cent with stone fruit increasing the most in price.

The report found that due to COVID-19 restrictions, international travel including working holiday maker visas had fallen by 64 per cent in 2020. This rapid decline in workers means a shortage in workers undertaking the seasonal worker program this year.

The report stated this shortage in overseas visa workers would result in a lower supply of horticultural produce until 2021-2022’s peak harvest season. Peak fruit season usually occurs between February, March and April.

Looking long term, overseas labour is predicted to increase production from 2022 to 2024 resulting in lower prices of fresh produce with prices expected to stabilise by 2025 – 2026.

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