Bushfires in the south of Australia have closed highways resulting in some reduction in supply of fresh fruit and vegetables.
 
As produce has been redirected and routes reopened the direct impact on prices caused by the fires should come to an end.
 
Prices however are likely to remain above what consumers might be used to paying for Australian produce in season at this time of year.
 
The same very hot and dry conditions across Australia that contributed to extreme fire conditions has also impacted on our horticulture industry.
 
The heat in particular has resulted in less produce of a high quality reaching wholesale markets and our grocery aisles. This trend of slightly higher than average prices is likely to continue.
 
In a bit over two months’ time, the Queensland winter vegetable season will begin kicking into gear and our reliance on southern production will lessen.
 
Here again, there are factors that may contribute to constraints to supply. The severe and ongoing drought in significant fruit and vegetable growing regions in Queensland has made water supplies uncertain and may result in fewer crops being planted.
 
While the impacts of drought and bushfires are devastating for farmers and regional communities, consumers should not have grave concerns about where their next meal will come from.  
 
The fresh produce supply chain remains resilient and dynamic. Growers are opportunistic in nature. If a shortfall in production is anticipated from one region, then growers somewhere else will attempt to fill it.
 
Even in the short term, markets respond quickly to price signals. For example, there are reports of green beans being flown into eastern states from Western Australia.
 
Inevitably, other parts of the supply chain will attempt to capitalise from the disruption. 
 
While it might make for a compelling headline, media outlets should avoid reporting speculation about dramatic increases in prices. No link has ever been established between this speculation and better prices for growers at the farm gate.