Ex-Cyclone Debbie: Fruit prices to skyrocket after storm
SHOPPERS could be hit in the hip pocket paying higher prices for fresh food in the aftermath of the destruction wreaked by Cyclone Debbie.
The destruction wrought on the region called Australia's winter food bowl will likely impact on food and vegetable crops with millions of dollars worth of damage in growing areas.
Horticulture contributes around $450 million annually to the Bowen economy and employs 3200 people.
Some farming crops have been wiped out with the Insurance Council of Australia declaring Debbie a "catastrophe".
National Farmers' Federation President Fiona Simson told Seven News: "It could well be well over a billion dollars worth of damage".
Grocer David Tobey in Sydney's Homebush said prices will "probably go up to $9, $10 a kilo for good quality tomatoes".
Local farms produce a large range of fruits and vegetables from corn to pumpkins, melons, mangoes, eggplant, chilli and macadamia nuts.
Bowen also contributes another $278 million a year to the state economy through sugar cane, coffee, cereal, pasture and hay.
The combined cane growing harvest between the three regions of Burdekin, Proserpine and Mackay is estimated to be around $850 million a year.
It comes as grocery giant Woolworths yesterday warned consumers that grocery bills would rise as a result of the nation's growing energy crisis.
Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci's said managing the supermarket business's spiralling energy costs is like "trying to outrun a bear", and warned consumers will pay more for groceries as a result, The Australian reports today.
His comments to The Australian's and Visy's Global Food Forum in Melbourne yesterday were backed by the nation's biggest fruit and vegetable producer, Costa Group, and the largest producer of poultry, Inghams Enterprises.
Mr Banducci said the retailing giant was installing more energy-efficient lighting and refrigeration in its stores but soaring consumer demand for more ready-made chilled food products would mean energy cost increases would more than outweigh savings.
"We manage what we can manage with energy efficiency," he said. "But given the cost increases that are coming through right now, we are trying to outrun a bear, but I am not sure we can.
"We will have to, in some way, very cautiously and carefully, pass those through to our customers, unfortunately.