Australia's drought is about to hit shoppers' hip pockets significantly with the price of fruit, vegetables and meat predicted to skyrocket before the end of the year, according to the Canberra Times newspaper.

Food industry representatives told the paper on Sunday that prices had already risen because of the lack of supply from drought-affected regions and the quality of products was also suffering. However, prices would continue to spiral even if the drought broke.

Shortened growing seasons and the poor nature of some crops will further reduce the supply of vegetables, with grocers forced to pay at least a third more for produce this season.

Beef and lamb was also in short supply in NSW, with butchers mainly sourcing their stock from Victoria.

And while poultry prices remain relatively low compared with other meats, the increase in the cost of feed means it, too, will become more expensive.

Maria Jugovac, from Tom's Super Fruits and Fresh Fruit Fantasy at Belconnen Fresh Food Markets, said tomatoes and lettuce were particularly expensive. "Victoria's growing season has finished and Queensland's hasn't started yet and big gaps between seasons finishing and starting mean big gaps between availability," she said.

The buyer for the same store, Brett Hawker, said fruit and vegetable prices were the highest he had seen. "They've only got so much of it this year, and if they haven't got the water supply to grow the amount they need to make their money then they'll just charge more for it."

The manager of market poultry and game at Fyshwick Markets, Ricci Cragg, said the supply of poultry was good, which had kept prices competitive.

"If anything we're most probably in a stage where people are buying more, because it's a competitive price to beef and lamb, which is more affected directly, because they basically feed off the fields."

He said chicken prices would rise alongside grain prices, as 90% of Australian chickens were grain-fed.

If the drought continued he predicted chicken prices to soar.

Australia Institute deputy director Dr Richard Denniss said supermarkets could provide relief for consumers by absorbing some of the cost, but he suspected the growing concentration in the retail industry meant it was unlikely prices would be contained.

Belconnen Markets Store Holders' Association president Ken Irvine said his members would try to absorb the cost of the drought.

"It's to remain competitive, but the bigger reason is you can't charge the customer too much, you don't want them to be scared away from buying a product, so our margin tends to drop."

But he said this was not sustainable over a long period and customers could expect price rises in fruit and vegetables.