HortNZ says vegetable prices will continue to increase if the Government does not support growers to find ways to reduce the costs of growing. ‘There is a crisis developing in commercial vegetable production in New Zealand. Input costs have soared over the past 12 months, not the least being the cost of fuel,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.
‘Reducing petrol excise duty by 25 cents a litre and road user charges for three months is a positive step for most New Zealanders. However, this has no impact on the significant increase in the cost of diesel for use on the farm, orchard or market garden.
"Between December 2021 and March 2022, the cost of diesel has increased from $1.67 a litre to $2.41 a litre. This increase - combined with significant cost increases in nearly all areas, including labour, seed, fertiliser, freight and compliance - is putting some growers perilously close to going out of business. Unless consumers are prepared to pay for the increased costs of growing vegetables, we will see an exodus from growing vegetables in New Zealand."
Barry says if that happens - growers shut up shop - vegetable prices will increase even further due to supply shortages. ‘This will mean that vegetables - a healthy, staple food - could be priced off the table for many New Zealand households.
"That’s why I am calling on the Government to safeguard food security by acting to reduce the spiralling cost of growing vegetables in New Zealand. Ultimately our health system - under immense pressure from Covid - would benefit from any cost reduction because it will enable all New Zealanders to continue eating nutritious vegetables, safeguarding their health and wellbeing."