The cost of fresh produce could see a rise of up to 60 percent a kilogram, experts have warned.
The fresh produce industry is facing shortages of up to 71,000 seasonal farm workers, who have been impacted by Coronavirus border restrictions.
Most of these workers - who are predominantly backpackers - have been forced to return home with restrictions preventing them from travelling to and around Australia to harvest areas.
Industry experts have warned the impact on Australia’s food supply chain will see massively inflated prices on fresh produce as supermarkets turn to other options, including importing from overseas.
Australian Fresh Produce Alliance CEO, Michael Rogers, said every Australian will be impacted by the price hike down the supply chain.
“Harvest roles in fresh produce are seasonal, short term and often require large amounts of workers at one time,” he said in a statement.
“The reduction in workers we’re seeing as a result of COVID19, plus the issues we’re finding trying to move workers across production locations is making it even more difficult for fruit and vegetable farmers to secure the workforce needed to continue to supply all Australians with fresh food.”
But exactly when this price hike would hit supermarkets was difficult to say.
In the wake of a looming food crisis, farmers are now pleading with the government officials to introduce a 'farming permit' which will allow workers to bypass the Coronavirus lockdown restrictions in some states.
While some permits have been granted, other farmers fall short of meeting the criteria leaving them to hold emergency meetings to work through other options.
A Government trial will soon be launched in the Northern Territory with 170 workers from Vanuatu arriving to help with the start of the mango harvest, despite the travel restrictions.
To date, Vanuatu have not confirmed any Covid-19 cases, while the NT have just three active cases.
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