Fruit, vegetable and meat prices will rise because of the drought

A dry future: It is predicted the meat industry will suffer the most as a result of the drought. Photo: stock image
A dry future: It is predicted the meat industry will suffer the most as a result of the drought. Photo: stock image

WHILE rains have soaked many drought-stricken farms across NSW recently, the impact of the devastating big dry could be felt well into 2019.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne, using a modelling study, recently found the country is experiencing the worst conditions in almost 400 years, with 99 per cent of NSW currently in drought.

According to Ken Little, from Ken Little's Fruit and Veg in Port Macquarie, the impacts of the drought are likely to be seen into next year.

"It hasn't had an affect at the moment. But, we feel as though it will next year," he said.

"What could happen is we could have a shortage of certain things, like apples for example, because they're grown in Orange and they haven't had much rain.

"That will affect their crop for next year. We will either have very large apples and not many of them, or very small apples. That's where the problems will lie in my opinion."

He said if his prediction turns out to be true, it will push up prices of certain fruit and vegetables.

Ken Little.

Ken Little.

"No doubt about it. It's just a matter of when," he said. 

"We have a lot of stuff coming out of Victoria, where they have had a lot of rain during the winter, so we will be okay there. 

"But it's March, April and May next year where we will start seeing the effect (of the drought). I think it will affect the meat industry more."

Port Meat Store owner, Larry Dickson, has been a butcher for decades and believes meat prices will only increase because of the drought.

"Lamb has jumped up about 40 per cent in price from this time last year, which is because of the price of grain," he said. 

"I buy all of my lamb from Cowra, so it has an impact and we have no choice but to increase price."

He said farmers who are set up properly still have to pay a higher price for feed, meaning they sell meat to butchers at a higher price, creating an increase on retail prices.

Current conditions: A map, updated on September 14, showing drought-affected NSW.

Current conditions: A map, updated on September 14, showing drought-affected NSW.

"We are lucky to buy our cattle local straight off the farm, so there hasn't been a huge increase in price on beef or pork," Mr Dickson said. 

"But generally, no-one knows how much the price will continue to climb. We try our best to keep prices down being a local butcher, but it is what it is. 

"If it takes 12 to 18 months to settle down ... we will have to wait it out."

Mike Cusato, owner of Growers Market in Port Macquarie, said he has not seen much of an impact on product or prices and does not expect to see a drastic change.

"A lot of the big time farmers are all irrigated. There's not many farmers that rely on rainfall," he said. 

"They do for filling their water supply mainly, but that supply comes from dams and that sort of thing. 

"Those farmers down in Victoria have an underwater water supply. Most of these people aren't heavily affected."

Mr Cusato said other pressing issues, such as the price of electricity, will affect the industry before the drought will. 

"I don't see a rise in prices for us," he said.