Coronavirus pandemic driving strong demand for local produce

General March 16, 2020

As humanity's most pressing health crisis plays out across the globe, Australian consumers appear to be rushing to boost their immunity with locally grown vegetables. 

Broccoli grower Brad Ipsen said demand for the vegetable was the strongest he had seen.

Mr Ipsen, who is based in the West Australian food bowl of Manjimup, works in one of the few industries enjoying a windfall from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This season has been really good … with the latest impacts with coronavirus and health issues, vegetables are a vitamin pill themselves," he said.

"But I think that's widespread too, other people are telling me the same thing.

Mr Ipsen said after years of volatility the stars had aligned to position the industry to reap the benefits of strong demand, solid prices and high-quality produce.

"We didn't really predict it was going to be this good, but the indications were that there were water shortages in the production areas on the east coast, but no-one really foresaw how that would impact us."

Fruit and vegetables help prevent illness

Dieticians said they were encouraged by consumer behaviour given the health benefits in preventing illness and disease.

Margaret Hays from the Australian Dieticians Association said people underestimated the importance of consuming fresh fruit and vegetables to prevent becoming sick.

"Eating fresh fruit and veg gives us a really big intake of antioxidants, which is really helpful for boosting our immunity," she said.

Supermarket demand grows

Vegetables WA chief executive John Shannon said that while not all primary producers were benefiting, the majority of the state's Midwest and South West were in a good position to capitalise on growing demand.

"We're hearing anecdotally that supermarkets are selling a large amount of fresh produce, as well as the canned produce, because consumers are lining themselves up to improve their immune systems," he said.

"I think certainly there's been increased demand because of the difficulties over on the east coast with drought and bushfires."

 

Source: ABC News

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