Fresh produce prices soar after floods

Friday, October 26, 2018 - 09:15

Prices of some types of fresh pro­duce have dou­bled at the South­ern Whole­sale Mar­ket in Debe fol­low­ing last week­end’s ex­ten­sive flood­ing and ven­dors al­so be­lieve price hikes and price goug­ing are keep­ing cus­tomers away.

When a T&T Guardian team vis­it­ed the mar­ket this week, the usu­al traf­fic and crowds were non-ex­is­tent.

Ven­dor Rick­ey May­nard said, "Usu­al­ly the mar­ket is full of peo­ple but to­day it is dead. We are wait­ing to see if we get some more cus­tomers by the late evening. To­day, hard­ly any­one came to buy and many peo­ple are watch­ing how they spend."

May­nard said some whole­sale crops were now so ex­pen­sive it was not pos­si­ble to buy them.

"Cu­cum­bers sold for $500 a bag com­pared to $250 last week. If we buy that for $500, what price will we sell it?

“This week we de­cid­ed not to buy any car­alie, string beans, saime and cu­cum­bers be­cause the whole­sale prices were too high and we knew we would get trou­ble re­tail­ing the goods," May­nard said.

Ven­dor Lynette Bas­deo, who was re­tail­ing string beans for $22 per pound and saime for $20 per pound, said goods were scarce and this was caus­ing prices to shoot up.

"Peo­ple know that lots of farm­ers suf­fered loss­es so those who have goods have dou­bled the prices. Car­il­li is sell­ing for $12 a pound and sweet pep­pers are sell­ing for $15 a pound," Bas­deo said.

The T&T Guardian al­so no­ticed a dis­par­i­ty in prices. One ven­dor sold large for­eign toma­toes for $15 a pound while an­oth­er sold medi­um-sized lo­cal toma­toes for $20 a pound. The ven­dor could not ex­plain why for­eign toma­toes which were not af­fect­ed by the floods were be­ing sold for $15.

"This is com­ing from the States and we pay­ing a high price for it so we have to sell it for $15," he ex­plained.

An­oth­er ven­dor, Rooplal Neckched­dy, said he paid $500 a bag for 72 pounds of cu­cum­bers which sold for $250 last week. He said the items which rose con­sid­er­ably were toma­toes, cu­cum­bers and me­l­on­gene. How­ev­er, he de­nied the floods caused these price hikes, say­ing these crops are ex­pen­sive in the lead-up to Di­vali.

Sev­er­al cus­tomers who were in­ter­viewed said the high price of goods was af­fect­ing them.

Char­maine Gan­gad­har said, "I am go­ing back to plant my kitchen gar­den be­cause I can­not af­ford to pay these prices."

She said she had al­ready pur­chased some pots to grow green sea­son­ings at home.

An­oth­er cus­tomer, Mar­i­lyn Agard, said there was no rea­son for the price of for­eign pro­duce to in­crease.

"Peo­ple just ex­ploit­ing the pub­lic by charg­ing ex­or­bi­tant prices. Why should for­eign toma­toes and for­eign cab­bage prices dou­ble? Those pro­duce were not af­fect­ed by the floods," she ex­plained.

Ground pro­vi­sion prices, as well as ochroes, re­mained the same as last week. Ochroes sold for $25 for 100 ochroes while pi­men­toes sold whole­sale for $300 a bag. Sweet pota­toes and ed­does sold for $6 per pound while yam sold for $10 per pound.

- by Radhica De Silva. Photo by Kristian De Silva