Vegetable prices rebound during month-end, but overall average still down

FNB Senior Agricultural Economist Paul Makube says their analysis of prices on South Africa’s major fresh produce markets shows some weakness across most fruit and vegetable commodities during January 2022 largely due to the softer post-holiday demand.

Makube says the December 2021 to January 2022 period was characterised by heavy rains and flooding conditions that impacted negatively on the quality of the produce as well washing away of crops in some instances.

In the fruit markets, states Makube, the average monthly prices were down across most commodities under review except for apples and mangoes that rose by 8.6% and 24% respectively month-on-month (m/m) with apples still up 1.6% year-on-year (y/y) while mangoes were 2.2% below the 2021 levels.

He said the monthly prices for avocados, bananas, grapes, and pears fell by 31.7%, 5.5%, 69.1%, and 12.5% respectively m/m in January 2022. In comparison to the previous year, the January prices for avocados, bananas, pears, and orange prices were down by 5.1%, 0.4%, 8.4%, and 6.6% respectively y/y (see figure A1a).

This signals a potential moderation in the fruit inflation outcomes for January 2022 following a decrease of 1.2% y/y in December 2021.

“We observed a similar trend in the vegetable market with monthly prices falling sharply across most commodities under review led by lettuce which fell by 39% m/m followed by butternuts, carrots, potatoes, cabbages, and tomatoes with sharp decreases of 26.1%, 25.5%, 15.8%, 14.1%, and 1.3% respectively m/m. Onions remained the exception and jumped 8.3% m/m and were 3.8% higher y/y.

“The prices of big-ticket items such as tomatoes and butternuts however saw a sharp increase of 120% and 59% respectively y/y (see figure A1a),” he said.

Makube adds that the lead up to the January month end however saw a rebound in prices of most commodities underpinned by tight supplies following inclement weather.

“Tomatoes were the biggest gainers with the average weekly prices for the week ended 28 January 2022 surging by almost 17% week-on-week (w/w) and 113% y/y at R12.83/kg. They were followed closely by carrot, cabbage, and potatoes with weekly increases of 12.5%, 10.0%, and 6.5% respectively w/w.”

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