Food supply to ease as markets expect new deliveries
Far Northern grocers have assured customers that prices will drop for sought-after fruit and vegetables as farmers kick production into gear and ease stretched supply lines.
One Cape York resident, who preferred to remain anonymous, complained of $21 cauliflowers and $20 bunches of celery - an eye watering sucker punch to anyone's wallet when dollars are hard to come by.
"We need fixed prices on fresh products and a food allowance in order to survive up here," the resident said.
"Not everyone got double Centrelink pay and can afford to pay these ridiculous prices, especially now we can't leave the north with the roads blocked.
"Something needs to be done at a state or federal level to ensure prices stay fair."
Cairns grocers are confident that prices would ease in the next fortnight.
"There are plenty of supplies coming in the next week or two," Piccones IGA boss Peter Piccone said.
Trinity Park's Farm Gate 2 You has been inundated with orders over the last week.
The family-run operation has been selling pre-prepared boxes of fresh produce for pick-up.
"Customers have been buying everything, they are not picking and choosing," Farm Gate 2 You owner Louise Bugeja said.
"We help out people who are isolated. We are packing boxes for them so they don't have to come out and we offer a pick-up service so customers don't have to come into the store.
"We offer a mix of everything, lettuce, tomato, zucchini, potatoes, pumpkins.
"We are a small family and are doing the best we can."
The family farm at Koah is currently in planting mode, sowing seeds in overtime to meet the demand from locked down families.
"We are putting in spinach, rocket, choi, zucchinis, capsicums," Ms Bugeja said.
Farm 2 You's delivery service is open to beaches residents only, although customers from across Cairns can order and pick up a box of fruit and vegetables.
Deliveries have also expanded into the wholesale market - food service suppliers Bidfood has begun domestic deliveries for orders starting at $200.
"Given the impact of COVID-19 on communities, our team have been working around the clock to enable us to not just bring the service to a few areas, but instead to be able to offer home delivery across all our locations nationally," Bidfood Australia CEO Rachel Ruggiero said.
It is a service already on offer through Cairns Ocean Products and Max Stocks for orders over $150.
In the northeast of Cape York, IGA Xpress Ayton has enough stock to see residents through three months of lockdown.
"Our rep in Cairns got in touch with our Brisbane office and we have a heap up here," owner Julie Hewlett said.
"As of 5pm we are cut off from Cooktown."
If the need arises, Ms Hewlett would be allowed to cross road blocks in her refrigerated truck as an essential service and restock in Cairns.
"We can still get some produce every week," Ms Hewlett said.
The IGA has been immune from hoarding that emptied shelves in urban centres.
"We always have back up stock in case of flooding and we only ran out of toilet paper last week."
She said prices had not skyrocketed despite the increased demand that has seen the cost of in-demand items ratchet up in Cairns.
"The prices remain the same on all our items. Produce had gone up earlier due to flooding and fires," Ms Hewlett said.
"Meat has gone up a little bit."
WOOLIES' NEW COVID -19 MEASURES
Supermarket giant Woolworths has rolled out further measures to cater to coronavirus-related demand.
The 7am-8am Community Hour will continue for seniors and people with a Disability on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
Emergency Services & Healthcare Workers will have their own dedicated shopping hours on Tuesdays & Thursdays.
The chain has also announced further safety measures.
"Our teams on check-outs will now rotate every two hours to ensure face-to-face interactions are limited to keep everyone safer," a Woolworths spokesman said.
Last week the company rolled out plexiglas screens on manned check-outs and posted
store greeters at the front of supermarkets.
The greeters would be expected "to wipe down baskets, trolleys and inform customers of recent changes, such as social distancing cues including keeping 1.5m apart, adjusted trading hours and product limit information."
Originally published as Price relief in sight for fresh produce in Far North