Trying to maintain a healthy and nutritious diet has never been more important – but it also comes at a high price.
Buyers turned to social media to expose what are known as price gouging in their local supermarkets and independent fruit stores.
Some companies sell toilet paper packages for $ 9, while the price of celery ranges from $ 9 to $ 16.
On a suburban shopping street in Brisbane, a store sells lettuce for $ 7, while a few steps away it costs less than $ 5 at another business.
Many people have speculated that sellers are raising prices to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic, but experts say if it’s a factor, it’s not the only reason.
“There are panic purchases, but there are other factors too,” Richard Shannon, policy and advocacy officer at Growcom, told 9News.
“We have just emerged from a long drought here in Australia which has affected a number of our very important growing regions.
“So today you can expect this to have an ongoing effect on the supply, but also on the price.”
He also explained that with the change of season at this time of the year, there was a regular change in production and some supply gaps.
“The seasons are changing so we are seeing a change in our production from Victoria to Queensland in the winter,” he said.
“With this transition, there are gaps in the supply, so this is where you will see prices rise normally.”
Mr. Shannon acknowledged that the prices were the highest we have seen in a while.
“Prices are quite high and some of our supermarkets report twice or even three times normal demand. This will inevitably have an impact on supply.”
“With all of this, the prices for additional demand will have to go up.”
Professor Gary Mortimer, researcher in food retailing and consumer behavior, agreed that the price hike was more due to weather conditions than the purchase of panic.
“We have certainly seen the prices of fruits and vegetables and meat increase in the past two months,” said Professor Mortimer.
“This is largely due to the more recent drought and bushfires in the south.”
But he warned that small retailers had more to gain financially by raising their prices.
“One of the advantages of large supermarkets is that they have uniform prices,” said Mortimer.
“It becomes a little more difficult for some of the small independent players where there is a bit of flexibility on how they can set their prices.
“Raising prices is a short-term strategy. It’s really a great way to blow customers up against your brand if you do.”
The two experts agreed that the best way to avoid price hikes was to check prices online in advance.
“I would advise buyers to basically shop. Look for your grocer online and even the markets where they are still open. Look elsewhere than usual,” said Shannon.
Current advice to all Australians under government laws on social distancing to stay at home to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Doing your research online instead of spending unnecessary time in stores is part of protecting your health and that of others.