The seasonal nature of fresh produce supply is being named 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 last year, with seasonal produce, including potatoes, apples, onion and kiwifruit, being 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.
It was kiwifruit that 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.
Te Puna greengrocer Seren-Aid staff member Pauline White said there had been a slight increase in prices at the store.
A difficult growing season for some areas had contributed to the prices. For example, Hawke's Bay stonefruit had suffered from hail damage.
"But there were still good deals to be had," she said.
One of these was the 99 cent avocados on the shelves last Thursday.
Storms had caused a lot of windfall avocados and there was a good supply of fruit that did not meet export standards.
Owner of Fruit Monster Lake Rd in Rotorua, Anshok Adlakha, said prices for fruit and vegetables were noticeably up this season as a result of unpredictable weather.
He said he had noticed a decrease in people buying fruit and vegetables as a whole. 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 had approached the wholesale market lately to question prices, and was told many growers were experiencing either too hot or too wet conditions, causing produce to die quickly, he said.
However, items such as watermelon and sweet corn were thriving and prices were low.
New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated chief executive Nikki Johnson said 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 as 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 importation of kiwifruit would have an impact on pricing.
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 company had its second-largest harvest to date in the 2018/2019 season, with around 147 million trays exported overseas, but this was one of the shorter crops in New Zealand.
Courtney said the recent season was one of the best tasting but shorter crops in New Zealand.
A Countdown spokeswoman said prices could fluctuate throughout the year, due to weather, seasons and customer demand, but prices were the same across all stores.
Foodstuffs head of corporate affairs Antoinette Laird said more than four million kilograms brought from New World, Pak'nSave and 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. These included the size of the crop, length of the season and whether it's grown in New Zealand, or imported.
In December last year, kiwifruit prices were slightly higher than usual as the fruit was imported from California to meet demand.