Food pricing, extreme weather and the rural/urban divide: a case study of Northern NSW, Australia

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Singh-Peterson, L, Shoebridge, A & Lawrence, G 2013, 'Food pricing, extreme weather and the rural/urban divide: a case study of Northern NSW, Australia', Journal of Food Security, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 42-48.

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According to the Australian Government (2012:vi), `a crucial question for the wellbeing of all Australian residents is the extent to which the food supply chain is resilient in the face of disruption’. The impact of extreme weather events and a changing climate on food production influences food prices across time and space. In this study food prices across the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales were surveyed one week after a disastrous flood and cyclone event. Six months later, a follow-up survey was initiated. The surveys provided data which allowed comparisons between food pricing in urban settlements and rural settlements in the region, both at the time of flooding, and six months after the floods. Results from the study indicate that the large chain supermarket prices actually decreased during the six-month period while, in contrast, food pricing in the small independent stores continued to increase after the flood event. We conclude that the smaller, regional stores are less resilient to the impact of the flooding event than are the larger, urban based stores. This raises significant concerns for regional communities that are dependent for food provision from small independent stores.

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