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Lettuce prices expected to drop soon

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One of Australia’s major lettuce growers expects prices for the high-demand vegetable to fall from next week.

John Said, managing director of vegetable grower and supplier Fresh Select, said the recent heavy rains have had a huge impact on the market.

“We had two floods. The first, some time ago, saturated our soils and made it very difficult for us to plant… A second flood, not so long ago, completely wiped out all the crops we had in the ground,” said he told AAP.

Mr Said said the replanting was causing a huge supply shortfall, with the only lettuces that could be harvested being those that survived the floods.

“We are seeing these price increases due to supply pressure,” he told AAP.

The farmer was surprised by the high prices obtained, with a box of 12 lettuces selling to retailers for up to $100.

In some supermarkets, lettuces cost between $10 and $12 each, with some shelves completely cleared of lettuce.

The Victorian grower hoped drier weather would boost supply.

“Obviously there just isn’t enough lettuce, hopefully we’ll see a reprieve next week.”

But Australian vegetable grower peak body AusVeg is warning consumers that prices are likely to remain high due to production pressures and bad weather.

“The cost of production pressures have been on us for 12 or 18 months – they’ve been increasing for a while,” AusVeg national public affairs manager Tyson Cattle told AAP.

He said the sharp increases in recent months were due to weather events in Queensland’s food bowl.

Mr Cattle warned consumers that prices are likely to remain high as long as the cost of production issues persist.

“We’re not going back to the prices we saw in the pre-COVID levels of cheap fresh produce,” Cattle said.