Outraged online shoppers called Woolworths out for its literally unbelievable produce prices this week after someone spotted whole watermelons going for $34.32 each and a quarter for $8.58. I beg your pardon. Watermelons are meant to be the cheap ones!
One customer shared a screenshot of the online watermelon prices on Facebook and called it “disgusting”. Agree.
And it wasn’t a mistake — a Woolworths spokesperson confirmed the exorbitant prices to 7News.com.au and blamed adverse growing conditions for the affected supply.
“The start of the watermelon season has been affected by wet growing conditions, resulting in reduced availability,” the spokesperson said.
“However, our farmers have told us that they’ve got a great crop on the way just in time for summer so our customers can expect to see an improvement in the coming weeks.”
La Niña has been crazy for farmers (and home gardeners) this spring and has delayed a lot of summer produce. All the rain and cloud cover has deprived plants of the precious sunlight they need to photosynthesise and grow, and some large-scale commercial farms have also been damaged by heavy rain and flooding. Prices have naturally skyrocketed due to low supply.
This is yet another reason why you should never buy fruit, veg or meat at a supermarket. If your aim is to spend less money on better quality food, shop at markets and greengrocers only because they have much shorter supply chains. We explain the many convincing reasons behind this claim here.
To be fair, it’s not quite watermelon season in Australia, which usually kicks off around Christmas and runs to mid-autumn. And truly the ultimate food/shopping/budgeting/life hack is to buy what’s fresh and in season.
So what is cheap and in season this month? Here’s your monthly fresh produce shopping guide.
Vegetables to buy in December
A whole host of stunning vegetables come into season at the start of summer and hoo boy, it’s only going to get better from here.
Zucchinis, squash and cucumbers (which are all in the same family) have just started to come through and should be very cheap and delicious all over Australia. It’s been so long *wipes away tear*.
We’re also at the tail end of the leafy-green season, so lettuce, spinach, silverbeet and rocket should remain cheap for the next few weeks before they start to lift in price again.
If you haven’t already noticed, avocados are also stupidly cheap rn, but not for much longer.
The ultimate spring veggies: snowpeas, sugar snap peas and asparagus are all still available but again, not for much longer. If you haven’t yet had your fill, today is the day!
Globe artichokes are also in season in spring and are so, so delicious. Cook and eat them whole and then preserve the hearts in oil and vinegar for sandwiches. Honestly how impressive would home-marinated fresh artichokes be as a Christmas present?
Capsicums, chillis, tomatoes, green beans and corn will all be coming through in the next few weeks (or may have already depending on where you are) so keep an eye out for them.
What’s out of season and too expensive rn: broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, cabbage, kale.
Fruit to buy in December
December is typically *prime* fruit month but as mentioned earlier, La Niña has kind of borked the weather so early-summer fruits are coming into season pretty unpredictably at the moment.
Early-summer stone fruits like cherries and apricots would normally be going nuts in early December but sadly, they’re still a few weeks off.
Woolworths has even had warning notices up in stores this week telling customers cherries are delayed due to La Niña and may not be as available or as affordable as they usually are at Christmas. They’re normally about $15 per kilo, but we can expect to be paying $25 per kilo this festive season.
But keep an eye out for cherries, apricots, nectarines, peaches and plums which should all be readily available by the end of the month or early January.
On the plus side, mango season is here! Right now! They’re cheap and sweet so get ready for sticky hands.
Grapes, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries are also finally coming into season. Now is the time to indulge.
Lemons are riiiight at the end of their season so you may still be able to get them for a good price, but not for much longer. Other citrus fruits like limes, oranges and grapefuits are sadly in their expensive era now.
And finally, keep an eye out for cheap watermelons, honeydew and cantaloupes which will come down in price by the end of the month. Don’t pay $34 for one watermelon, just wait a few weeks babe.Image: Aleksandra Bliszczyk