Pumpkin prices are the highest they've ever been, spiking to an average of nearly $6 a kilo.

Statistics New Zealand's food price index showed the price had increased 176 per cent in the year to November.

The price of $5.78 a kilo was the most pumpkin had cost since Stats NZ's food price series began in 1993.

Retail prices are even higher. An online check today showed it was $6.99 a kilo in Countdown and in October, the Herald found pumpkin for sale in supermarkets for between $4.50 and $6.99 a kilo.

Advertisement

Read more: Frightening prices on pumpkins this Halloween.

Kumara was another vegetable to reach astronomical prices at $8.99 a kilo in November - an 83 per cent rise on this time last year when the root vegetable cost just $4.92 a kilo.

Fruit and vegetable prices increased by 1.2 per cent overall year on year after seasonal adjustment, Stats NZ data showed.

A wet start to the growing season followed by a dry spell late in the year, had combined to create super high prices, Horticulture NZ manager John Seymour said.

"It's the same problem every time - supply and demand."

The wet start to the growing season meant planting was done later, so yield and harvesting was later too, Seymour said.

"Therefore there's just not the volume there would usually be."

Now, we've gone from "one extreme to the other" as the dry spell slows pumpkin growth on the vine.

Advertisement
New World pumpkins on sale in October, when the herald first reported on the humble vege's price spike. Photo / Tess Nichol
New World pumpkins on sale in October, when the herald first reported on the humble vege's price spike. Photo / Tess Nichol

"There's a slower growth rate because there's not enough water," he said.

"Those two factors combined means there a significant shortage."

Last year saw a similar though less extreme spike in prices just before Christmas, which levelled out in January and February.

Seymour couldn't say for sure when prices would drop again, but said it would be at least a month or two.

"It's subject to the weather - if we get a break in the [dry] weather they'll come down."

• READ MORE: '$7 for a head of lettuce as post-cyclone vege price hike continues'.

Seymour said he appreciated people often wanted to eat pumpkin at Christmas, but said people should buy in season and go for cheaper alternatives.

Options for combating extreme weather in the future included building dams or reservoirs to store water, but the consenting process for doing so was harder now than it used to be, he said.

"It's never straightforward, that's why we have the problem we do."

Several fresh produce items have seen huge price spikes this year, including lettuce, which reached $7 a head at some retailers this year.

And it's not just fresh food.

Butter reached another record high, rising 1.3 per cent in November.

The average price of the cheapest available 500g block of butter was $5.74 in November, up from $5.67 in October and $3.88 in November last year.

• READ MORE: 'Butter prices rise to record high'.