The only supermarket on Mornington Island off north-west Queensland’s Gulf Country has renewed calls for freight subsidies on fresh fruit and vegetables for remote Aboriginal communities.
Vicki Waring manages the community-owned supermarket and says she spends thousands of dollars every week on freight to get food onto the island.
She says that cost is not passed onto customers but any savings from subsidies could be used to bring down prices of other items like meat.
“We actually pay as much in freight as we do for the fruit and vegetables to get it here,” she said.
“If I pay 50 cents for the supplier, we sell it at 55 cents but it actually costs me an extra 50 cents to get it here.
“We … completely cover the freight for fruit and vegetables for the community, so that’s like over $3,000 a week.”
The Public Health Association of Australia says governments should be investigating ways to reduce the costs of fresh fruit and vegetables in remote areas.
Association president associate professor Heather Yeatman says research already shows that consumption of fruits and vegetables are lower in remote areas.
She says anything that could reduce price should be considered.
“If there are additional prices because of additional freight cost to get fruits and vegetables into rural and remote areas, that will be a disincentive,” she said.
“If there is a way of reducing those freight costs through subsidies, a differential tax, so that the fruits and vegetables are competitively priced against other foods.”