Supply issues send homegrown avocado prices soaring

Supply issues have driven up avocado prices.
Supply issues have driven up avocado prices. Photo: Jennifer Soo

There is little relief in sight for Australian avocado lovers, who have been forking out as much as $4.99 per fruit in recent weeks.

A poor season in Western Australia - the predominant supplier of summer Hass avocados - has been the main cause, with retail prices averaging about $3.48 across the country for the past two months.

In Melbourne, prices peaked at the wholesale fruit and vegetable market at $65 per tray (5.5 kilograms) just before Christmas, and are now fetching $45 to $55 per tray, which translates to about $2 per fruit wholesale.

Shoppers at Harris Farm Markets in New South Wales were paying as much as $4.99 for WA-grown Hass this week.

Tristan Harris, of Harris Farm, said $4.99 was the price for "top of the range" avocados. "We don't sell many at that price," he said.

West Australian grower Ben Walker, of Delroy Orchards, said this season's Hass crop was about 30 per cent the size of last season's, but he said individual fruit was generally bigger this year.

The high prices have resulted in some retailers avoiding Australian-grown fruit altogether in recent months.

Daniel Ruta, of Colonial Fruit Markets, which has five shops in suburban Melbourne, said this was the first time he had sold New Zealand fruit.

"We've been selling only New Zealand fruit for the past month ... The West Australian avocados have been very expensive since before Christmas," he said.

"We're selling the larger New Zealand fruit at $3.99 and the smaller for $1.99. Our customers are very price sensitive and there's no chance we could sell fruit at $5 per piece."

Tony Nigro, price reporting officer for Fresh State (Melbourne Wholesale Market), said consumers could not expect much price relief in the short term, with prices more likely to rise than fall between now and the end of the month as West Australian supplies dwindle.

"If this year's supply patterns follow last year, prices are unlikely to drop much until about April or May when other varieties such as Shepards, Fuerte and Wurtz become available alongside Hass from northern Queensland and northern New South Wales."

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