Produce supplier Darling Group doesn’t usually ship Australian tomatoes to New Zealand. However, according to founder Andrew Darling, the current price of tomatoes in New Zealand means bringing the household staple across the Tasman to sell makes financial sense.
Still, there are political sensitivities in bringing Australian tomatoes in, so Darling says the NZ firm is careful to only import when there is a real shortage at hand, which is now, apparently. The latest index showed food prices soared in August this year compared with August in 2021, logging the fastest increase in the price New Zealanders pay at the supermarket since 2009. Overall food inflation was 8.3% annually in August, a price rise not seen for 13 years, with grocery food prices increasing by 8.7%.
Among the other items leading the price increases were fruit and vegetables, which saw a 15% annual rise with Stats NZ pointing out capsicums, potatoes, and onions were behind the annual increase in prices, while monthly prices were pushed up by tomatoes, capsicums, and cabbage.
Prices for tomatoes are generally high anyway in winter months like August, but there are other reasons why this August was particularly expensive. The discovery of a tomato disease has meant eight export markets were off the table for growers. Some growers have decided not to replant for export due to increased freight costs, meaning excess export tomatoes that might have been sold in New Zealand simply won’t be available this year.