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Coles and Woolworths respond to Christmas ‘vegetable price surge’ after $50m storm

Australia's supermarket giants have weighed in about the impact of a storm that has devastated farmers in Queensland.

Coles and Woolworths have responded to speculation that the cost of some vegetables will rise just before Christmas after a powerful storm decimated crops in Queensland.

Up to 40 growers were devastated when a “tornado-like storm” that hit the Lockyer Valley, in south-east Queensland, last week tore up crops of pumpkins, melons, green beans, chokos, sweet corn, shallots and broccolini.

Reports circulated that this would lead to a spike in prices ahead of the holiday period, a concerning concept for many Australians struggling with a plethora of other rising costs.

Yahoo Finance contacted Australia’s biggest supermarkets to find out how much of an impact the storm will have on prices.

Coles and Woolworths store fronts inset with an image of crops damaged in a storm.
Coles and Woolworths have weighed in amid customer fears there will be a jump in prices ahead of Christmas following a devastating storm. (Credit: Yahoo Finance) (picture alliance via Getty Image)

Coles said the storm did impact some of its growers and “consequently, the supply of baby broccoli may be limited in the coming weeks”.

“However, we work with multiple vegetable growers in this region who were not impacted by the storm and will continue to offer baby broccoli. We have a national network of suppliers for fresh produce to help avoid shortages when events like this occur,” a spokesperson told Yahoo Finance.

“We have some great weekly value offers for our customers, with a strong supply of products such as sweet corn in Victoria and Tasmania at $90 cents a cob, iceberg lettuce and cucumbers are in strong supply nationally - with baby cucumbers at $3 a pack - while cherry tomatoes offer great value at $2.50 a pack (in all states except WA).”


Woolworths said some of its growers' crops were also hit.

“While some of our crops have been impacted by the Lockyer Valley storms over the weekend, not all growers in the region were affected and a number of our main growers weren't impacted,” a spokesperson told Yahoo Finance.

“Customers may see some supply issues with broccolini, however, we will continue to have broccoli and all our other fresh veg available.”

Crops wiped out in a storm inset with some pumpkins laying on the ground damaged.
Farmers have called for government support to help with the clean up after $30m in crops were wiped out and $20m in infrastructure was damaged. (Credit: David Crisafulli) (picture alliance via Getty Image)

The impact to the farmers involved is far more serious, given the $30 million in crop damages and further $20 million in infrastructure damage. The area was also swamped by floods last year.

Farmers have called for government support in the fallout. Assistance loans for emergency repairs have been offered.