This post was updated on 2021-07-19.
Earlier this year, we heard about a sudden increase in the price of tomatoes and bananas.
Is it just me or the price of bananas and tomatoes have skyrocketed in the past few weeks 🤔🤔🤔 @trundler have you done any analysis on this recently, or am I just shopping at the wrong stores— Mrs FF (@fancyfunshy) March 16, 2021
We had a look our data and were shocked to see how much tomato prices had increased in a short period of time. Banana prices had also increased.
It appeared that unusually heavy rains had damaged crops in some of South Africa’s major tomato growing regions. The unexpected rains created ideal conditions for insects to breed, which put further pressure on the already struggling tomatoes. As a result, the harvest was smaller than anticipated.
Tomatoes are usually harvested in late summer, so one would expect prices to be at their lowest at this time. Instead, because of the shortage, prices went through the roof.
Let’s take a look at a few examples.
At one of South Africa’s major retailers, the price of a kilogram of “English” tomatoes increased by 30% between 1 February and 28 March 2021.
At another major retailer, between 1 February and 8 May 2021, the price of a kilogram of loose tomatoes increased by 50%!
Overall, the price of tomatoes (excluding the smaller varieties) increased by about 27% between 1 February and 18 April.
That’s a rather steep increase! Fortunately, prices have subsequently dropped, presumably because tomato crops have recovered and there is an adequate supply of tomatoes once more.
Banana prices also increased between February and May, however, similar price increases occurred at about the same time last year. It’s likely that these price increases were related to a seasonal shortage.