Agriculture

Vegetable prices retain gains early in February 2022 while fruits ease

February opened on a mixed note for prices on fresh produce markets with decreases across most fruit commodities while vegetables retained the good month end gain, that’s according to FNB Senior Agricultural Economist at FNB Paul Makube.

He said the strength in the vegetable prices was underpinned by a rebound in demand across markets.

The biggest weekly gainers in the vegetable market were lettuce with a sharp increase of 44% week-on-week (w/w) but still down by 11% year-on-year (y/y) at R14.09/kg. They were followed closely by butternuts, cabbages, carrots, and tomatoes with weekly increases of 20.3%, 19.9%, 15.4%, and 7.2% w/w at R3.78/kg, R2.80/kg, R2.97/kg, R13.76/kg.

Makube said that the price of big-ticket items such tomatoes and butternuts remain elevated relative to last year with increases of 78.4% and 48.9% respectively y/y.

“In the fruit markets, the increased availability weighed heavily on pears and mango prices thus posting the biggest weekly losses of 13.7% and 12.5% w/w and sharp decreases of 20% and 14.7% respectively y/y at R10.59/kg and R12.47/kg. Grapes and apples followed closely both with modest declines of 4% w/w at R15.09/kg and R10.47/kg. The fruit complex showed declines relative to last year as volumes picked up recently,” he said.

Makube said bananas and apples were however the exception and rebounded strongly with weekly increases of 8.5% and 10.7% w/w at R8.55/kg and R38.30/kg respectively.

“At current levels, bananas are 27.5% ahead of the same week in 2021 while avocados fell by 12.7% y/y.”

“The generally softer average monthly producer prices for vegetables during January indicate a benign inflation outcome in the next Statistics South Africa update due for release later in February 2022.”

He said that short to medium-term price outlook indicates a potential upside for prices across most categories as volumes subside. The medium to long term production outlook remains favourable with adequate water for both dryland and irrigated crops.

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