Vegetable prices stabilising as growers begin to meet demand – industry body

There are signs fresh vegetable prices are stabilising as winter nears, with growers responding to supply issues, an industry player says.

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Vegetable prices have spiked recently. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Food prices have continued to rise, with a perfect storm of Covid-19 related supply chain issues, inflation, a war in Europe and sanctions imposed on Russia, as well as bad weather, all contributing to consumer pain.

But vegetable supplies throughout winter are expected to be good and the prices stable, according to Vegetables New Zealand chairperson John Murphy.

Murphy, a Blenheim-based grower of garlic and shallots, told Morning Report growers had struggled lately, had responded to supply and demand issues that have saw supermarket chains bump up prices.

“Prices were particularly high over the past two months following really unseasonable weather and you’ll remember we had everything from cyclones … and that had made it quite a struggle,” he said.

“When you see those very high prices growers react because there’s quite an evident lack of supply. We’re in a very dynamic market and so we do adjust. We can’t always adjust for the weather unfortunately.”

“There are some really fundamental issues with cost and a lot of businesses were struggling with prices in particular, but also prices like fertiliser and labour shortages are really starting to bite as well.”

Covid-19 supply chain issues had hit growers ability to get produce to market, but in general, those issues had been kept to a minimum, he said. Things were now looking better.

“We’re fortunate as an industry we were deemed essential to the country’s food supply, which is appropriate. But working through those conditions, it does affect productivity,” he said. “Shelves have remained full of fresh vegetables and that gives a lot of reassurance to the public.” – Vegetables New Zealand chairperson, John Murphy

“So when you’re working in bubbles and you have a limited number of people working beside each other it really does take output down. Growers have really had to work hard to get around those things and they’ve done a pretty good job for the most part.

“Shelves have remained full of fresh vegetables and that gives a lot of reassurance to the public I think, particular when there’s a health issue.”

Murphy also has a basic tip for shoppers – go for the specials and when there’s good value, and be prepared to substitute.

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