24 March 2020

Mayhem at Fyshwick as market forces in play

| Michael Weaver
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Shoppers at the Fyshwick Markets.

Fyshwick Markets management continues to monitor COVID-19 and is following advice from the Department of Health and ACT Health. Photo: Supplied.

Shopkeepers at the Fyshwick Markets have faced abuse from angry shoppers as the prices of staples such as meat and vegetables increase due to supply issues relating to the COVID-19 response.

Shopkeepers say that suppliers have increased their prices and that the shopkeepers are not making additional profits from the sale of their stock.

Marketing manager of the Fyshwick Markets Georgie Houston told Region Media that the forces of supply and demand have forced shopkeepers to increase their prices, with reports of a single head of cauliflower selling for $19.99 at one of the fruit and vegetable retailers and for $13.99 at another.

Prices of cauliflower at the Fyshwick Markets

Prices of cauliflower at the Fyshwick Markets. Photo: Supplied.

Ms Houston said that while most people are being patient and helping each other, demand for fresh produce had turned the usually pleasant experience into bedlam and that shopkeepers had faced abuse.

“Thursday [19 March] was mayhem. It was like Christmas Eve.

“At the moment, we’re copping a lot of abuse because prices are going up,” Ms Houston said.

“We’re not making increased profits out of this due to the unnecessary increase in demand. We already had a smaller supply due to the drought and fires.”

Ms Houston said one of their butchers had received an order for $600 worth of meat, as well as high demand for items such as eggs and vegetables with a longer shelf life.

“Our shopkeepers are constantly restocking, but demand is so big that as soon as they put it on the shelf, it gets taken away.

“We have enough stock, we just ask that people be sensible.”

The Fyshwick Markets will also have a special shopping hour for seniors and their carers every Thursday and Friday morning from 7:00 am to 8:00 am, starting 26 March until further notice. Staff and traders have implemented additional cleaning procedures, including regular disinfecting of communal surfaces.

Some of the traders are also doing increased orders online.

“Due to unnecessary bulk and panic buying, our supply costs have increased, meaning that our stores are paying more for the same product. We are not profiting from this time.

“We’re just trying to tell people to practice kindness. We’re doing our best to support our shoppers and people are getting quite aggressive with the price increases, but all the staff and tenants are trying their best, too.

“If people can just be reasonable with their shopping, there should be no shortage of supply,” Ms Houston said.

Claire Stewart of Arc Organics

Claire Stewart of Arc Organics is also seeing unprecedented demand for fresh produce. Photo: Region Media.

Organic fruit and vegetable business owner Claire Stewart, who operates Arc Organics, said she has also faced a big increase in costs from her suppliers.

She said that an 8 kg box of broccoli was usually between $45 and $50, but had increased to $90 this week. Cauliflower was $7 per head.

Claire said she had not increased her prices, but there would be slightly fewer items included in her mixed boxes of fruit and vegetables.

However, one business has seen the demand as an opportunity to get some much-needed cashflow by slashing its prices. That store is Beyond Q bookstore at Cooleman Court, which marking down all its stock by 40 per cent.

Owners Jenni Lawton and Simon Maddox said that while they are facing a “very uncertain future” due to the coronavirus, they want to say thank you to the people who have supported them.

“We want our doors to stay open to all of you for a long time to come, but right now we can’t guarantee that they will,” Jenni said.

“So, as a thank you to all, and as a way to raise some much-needed revenue, we are selling books, magazines and records at a huge 40 per cent discount.

“The discount sale begins this Saturday [21 March] and will continue for at least a week.

“So please come in and find yourself a treasure for a great price, and enjoy it over a coffee and cake,” Jenni said.

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RiotAct, you need to do better! This type of sensationalism just makes people panic. So many people here, including myself, went to the markets last week and we saw no evidence of panic and bad behaviour.
Yes, SOME items were more expensive, but we already knew this because farmers told us the drought and fires would make some fruis and vegetables scarce. There’s LOTS of fruit and vegetables that are selling at around or just slightly above their normal price. Do better!

William Yates1:04 am 23 Mar 20

No. Nobody ever makes a profit. Just like the local stores are selling individual rolls of toilet paper for $2.00 a roll. They don’t make a profit either. Funny that.

People obviously don’t realise where fruit and veg shops get their produce from.

Hint it comes from the wholesale markets in Sydney where every other fruit and veg shops gets theirs and where product is sold to the person willing to pay the most.

So of course in times of high demand (coupled with low supply because of recent environmental issues) the prices will rise.

They way to keep prices down is to reduce demand which means don’t panic buy. Panic buy prices will go up.

Kevin Merritt1:50 pm 22 Mar 20

My 2¢ worth (and that may be all it’s worth lol). Ok, so Cauliflower is selling for as much as almost $20 per head. I paid $10 per head at Woolies. If the retailers aren’t ripping us off, then someone down the supply chain is obviously getting the extra money. That additional $16 per head over and above normal pricing is going somewhere and not just evaporating is it? And I personally don’t think we should blame just the hoarders. How on Earth can you hoard Iceberg Lettuce for example, ever tried freezing it? Yucky… Same deal with capsicum, right? This is a broader problem and anyone caught profiteering should end up being penalized somehow.

In the meantime don’t buy more than you need between shopping trips. Be polite and if you find someone jacking prices up, vote with you your feet and go somewhere else if at all possible. Stay safe peeps ?

HiddenDragon7:42 pm 21 Mar 20

There have been notable increases in prices in the produce sections of the major grocery chains, too. With the scrutiny those chains are currently under, I assume (and hope) they would be called out fairly quickly if those increases are due to much increased margins for the retailers with little or no benefit flowing through to the producers.

If the producers are getting better prices then that would be fair enough, after all that they, and the regional towns which depend on them, have been through in recent times.

Crazy price increases… if only shoppers had an easily accessible local alternative not prey to such sweeping disruption…

Over to you, ALDI

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