Food Price Index data shows higher fruit and vegetable prices, reflecting the many challenges producers are facing

New Zealand’s latest Food Price Index has revealed another increase in the cost of fruit and vegetables when compared with the same time last year.

Jerry Prendergast United Fresh New Zealand

Jerry Prendergast

According to United Fresh NZ, the extreme weather events experienced around the country will continue to impact the market in the months ahead.

Flash floods in Auckland and Northland followed by Cyclone Gabrielle have seen some of the most productive horticulture land wiped out completely, yet many others have escaped the worst of the weather and autumn harvesting continues as normal, the group said.

United Fresh president Jerry Prendergast encouraged shoppers to be patient with the complex problems facing many growers.

“Torrential rain and high winds have not just destroyed crops but have hampered the whole planting and harvesting cycle,” he said. ”The best thing we can all do to help is to be flexible, try an alternative to your favourite vegetable or fruit while our growers get back in business.

“Despite the challenges facing the industry, there is still seasonal produce available which represents good value,” Prendergast continued. “Fresh, local produce remains the highest quality and most nutritious option for feeding your whānau.

“While the Food Price Index shows prices have risen across the board, this statistic doesn’t include seasonal specials.”

As the cooler winter months come around growing conditions become tougher for many fresh produce categories, but Prendergast noted there was a silver lining to the challenges facing the industry.

“Whether Kiwi consumers are taking the opportunity to try out new fruit or vegetable flavours, or shoppers are continuing to show their support for our growers at the checkout, the horticulture industry will get through this tough patch,” he said.

“The sun will come out for growers throughout Aotearoa. This month we’ll be seeing salad leaves such as iceberg come back into the market as some of our leafy greens recover from damage in January, and next month some root crops will be in good supply too.”