The seasonal nature of fresh produce supply is being named as the factor behind a rise in vegetable and fruit prices in the Bay of Plenty.
The cost of fruit and vegetable prices rose 2.1 per cent in December, with seasonal produce, including potatoes, apples, onion and kiwifruit, the main contributors to the price rise between November and December.
Potatoes increased by 18 per cent to $2.13 per kilogram, apples increased by 15 per cent to $3.80 per kilogram and onions increased by 8.9 per cent to $2.38 per kilogram.
Kiwifruit claimed the biggest increase, almost doubling in price in a year. Prices for the furry fruit rose 32 per cent to sit at a weighted average of $8.27 per kilogram. This compared to $4.24 in December 2018.
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Fruit Monster Lake Rd owner Anshok Adlakha said prices were noticeably up this season as a result of unpredictable weather.
Out-of-season fruit and vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli and kiwifruit were all high in price or completely out of stock at the moment, he said.
Adlakha approached the wholesale market himself lately to question prices and found many growers were experiencing conditions either too hot or too rainy, causing produce to die quickly, he said.
Stonefruit such as peaches and nectarines were becoming expensive because they were difficult to grow locally, prompting the fruit to be sent from the south or imported, he said.
However, watermelon and sweet corn were thriving and prices were low.
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Adlakha said he noticed a decrease in people buying fruit and vegetables as a whole.
Te Puna greengrocer Seren-Aid staff member Pauline White said there had been a slight price increase because of a difficult growing season for some areas "but there were still good deals to be had".
Storms caused a lot of windfall avocados and there was a good supply of fruit that did not meet export standards.
A Countdown spokeswoman said: "The price of fruit and vegetables can fluctuate
often throughout the year and is primarily due to weather, seasons and customer demand.
"Our pricing is the same across our Countdown stores and we work directly with our growers to provide our customers with fresh, good quality produce at affordable prices."
New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated chief executive, Nikki Johnson, said pricing was determined by supply and demand.
Lower volumes of green kiwifruit were harvested last year than the previous year, due to weather conditions.
This meant there would not be much on the market and fruit sold in December last year would have been the last of the green kiwifruit from that harvest, while the gold was likely to have run out before then.
Any kiwifruit sold in the next three months was likely to be imported.
Changes in domestic pricing would have little impact for growers' bottom lines, she said.
Grower returns were influenced by export, not domestic, pricing as about 97 per cent of kiwifruit grown in New Zealand was shipped overseas.
Zespri chief grower and alliances officer David Courtney said the company had its second-largest harvest to date in the 2018/2019 season, with around 147 million trays exported overseas.
He said Zespri did not set prices for the New Zealand market and only sold a small portion of kiwifruit in the country alongside a number of other sellers.
The recent season was one of the best tasting but there were shorter crops in New Zealand, he said.
Foodstuffs head of corporate affairs Antoinette Laird said more than four million kilograms of kiwifruit was brought from New World, PAK'nSAVE, Four Square supermarkets in the North Island every year.
Laird said produce prices were set in store and could be impacted by a number of factors.
An example of this was fresh limes that were currently in short supply globally, mainly due to high levels of rain resulting in lower yields than usual. This made fresh limes more expensive.
- Additional reporting Caroline Fleming