Food delivery service My Food Bag is re-working its menus in the aftermath of cyclones Debbie and Cook with some vegetables, in particular leafy greens, still hard to come by.

In the month since heavy rains caused flooding and chaos around the country, My Food Bag has had to alter about 15 recipes a week, mainly in response to shortages of spinach, leafy greens and washed salads.

Shortages of beans, broccoli, salads, silverbeet, lettuce and spinach have also been an issue at supermarkets in recent weeks, with shelves left empty at times and prices rising after growing regions such as Pukekohe and Levin were flooded in early April.

My Food Bag co-founder Cecilia Robinson said so far the company had absorbed the price hikes rather than passing the cost on to customers.

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"On average, 15 recipes per week across our nine My Food Bags and six Bargain Boxes have been re-worked to use alternative greens," she said.

"We quite often swap spinach for cavolo nero and Asian greens such as bok choy, as these are just as delicious and are prepared in a similar way.

"That being said, availability changes weekly and sometimes our chefs need to get a bit creative."

Widespread flooding in the North Island damaged several growing regions causing crop shortages this season. Photo/ Paul Taylor
Widespread flooding in the North Island damaged several growing regions causing crop shortages this season. Photo/ Paul Taylor

Late season sweet corn and fennel had also been used as alternatives on occasion.

Customers had been receptive to the change-ups and for many, this was their first time trying alternative ingredients such as cavolo nero, a type of kale, Robinson said.

The company expected to experience shortages for up to two more months or potentially even longer as more bad weather threatened to batter the country with the approach of cyclone Donna.

"Who knows, this may be our opportunity to make cavolo nero New Zealand's new favourite leafy green vege."

South Island growers had been helping plug the gaps while North Island suppliers got back on their feet after the wild weather, Robinson said.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman said it had been a trying season for some growers this autumn, but they continued to put out as much produce as commercially viable.

"This has been one of the wettest harvests in recent memory, and this significant event will reduce fresh market supply."

"The effects are variable depending on the crop, obviously, with some faring much better than others. But it'll still be between six to 12 weeks before we really know the long term effects of the recent weather, both on growers and consumers."

Several supermarkets in central Auckland were today still sporting signs warning customers of low supply and higher prices for some produce.

A sign in New World Victoria park apologised for low supply of salad bags, and in Countdown Grey Lynn a sign thanked customers for their understanding with regards to a shortage of bagged lettuce, spinach, broccoli and cauliflower.

A letter apologising for shortages of several crops at Countdown Grey Lynn, Auckland. Photo/ Tess Nichol
A letter apologising for shortages of several crops at Countdown Grey Lynn, Auckland. Photo/ Tess Nichol

Countdown spokesman James Walker said as shortages continues people would do well to look for alternative produce less affected by the weather, such as silverbeet, leeks and cabbage.

"Carrots from Ohakune are currently in plentiful supply and are $1.50 per kilo this week."

Foodstuff spokeswoman Antoinette Laird said ready for harvesting as well as recently planted seedlings had been destroyed, meaning the shortage in supply would be felt for weeks to come.

"If the current cold weather continues, this will also have an effect as it will slow the growth of green vegetables.

"It will be several weeks yet before our supplies return to normal, however, it looks as though our supply of broccoli and salads will start to improve soon."