Prawns could be a few dollars more expensive this year because fewer fishermen were at sea during the height of the pandemic.
Usually fishermen fill up freezers throughout the year to keep pace with demand over the Christmas period, but not as many prawns were caught in 2020, Mooloolaba Fish Market seafood manager Kristian Penny said.
“It put a lot of pressure on the market and it will push prices up,” he said.
The Sunshine Coast fish market, which was bracing for 300-metre-long lines on December 25, would sell 20 tonnes of prawns across Christmas and Boxing days.
He said Mooloolaba king prawns so big “you can put a saddle on them and ride them home” were selling for $39.90 a kilogram but would jump by about $10 if bought in capital cities.
Mr Penny said oyster prices were the same as last year, about $22.90 for a dozen.
The soaring price of grain to feed livestock, accelerated by years of drought, has put pressure on pork farmers again this year, despite improved prices in the back half of 2020.
Pork Queensland president John Coward said farmers had absorbed most of the extra costs from shipping grain up from southern states.
Price for a kilogram of ham from Woolworths and Coles starts about $9, about the same price as last Christmas but up from $7 in 2018.
“There is no doubt that drought is top of the mind,” Mr Coward said.
“When you are buying your Christmas ham, make sure you are buying it on the bone because that ensures you are buying Australian.”
The climbing cost of grain has led to higher prices for turkey and the big birds might sell out before Christmas Day.
“All the turkeys produced for Christmas have been produced on very expensive feed, so farmers have had to put prices up to cover the cost,” said John Watson from the Australasian Turkey Federation.
“It has been an extremely difficult year for planning,” he said.
“If you need more beef, lamb or pork you can always go out to a sale yard and buy more but it is not like that with turkey, we have to plan months and months in advance.”
“There was one point we did not think Christmas would even eventuate this year [because of COVID] but it has been about as busy as last year.
“We have already sold out. I would not be surprised come Christmas, the last panic, there might be a shortage of turkey.”
Cherry prices have dropped about 10 per cent as the industry braces for one of the biggest crops on record.
The price of cherries will be a little bit cheaper than last Christmas – about $12.50 a kilogram compared with $14 last year.
A squeeze on airfreight during the pandemic has been the biggest challenge for the industry this year, Cherry Growers Australia president Tom Eastlake said, but was not expected to affect prices for Australian customers.
“Hopefully lots of people want to buy cherries this Christmas, we certainly need it,” he said.
“We are on track for one of the biggest crops ever.”
Mr Eastlake had just finished a 22-hour day working on his farm when he spoke with Brisbane Times. He said finding casual, part-time and permanent staff had been almost impossible.
“Lots of families are working within an inch of their life,” he said.
Mangoes will cost about 50¢ more than they did last Christmas because total production has fallen by about 20 per cent, Australian Mangoes chief executive Robert Gray says.
“That is largely driven by climatic conditions. It has been very hot, dry and windy so the fruit is not as big as normal and more fruit dropped off in between flowering and harvest.
“We will still produce about 8 million trays of mangoes this season so there will not be a shortage for shoppers.”
Mr Gray said mangoes would go from between $2 and $3 this year.
He warned that fruit would be left hanging on trees by the back end of summer with not enough pickers because of international travel restrictions.
“Labour is very, very tight at the moment – it has been getting tighter every week,” he said.
Lydia Lynch is Queensland political reporter for the Brisbane Times