Vegetable prices set to increase by more than half, risking New Zealanders’ health

07 Oct 2019 Vegetable prices set to increase by more than half, risking New Zealanders’ health image

Vegetable prices could increase by as much as 58% by 2043, risking New Zealanders’ health, if central and local government policies that will stop new vegetable growing in New Zealand are accepted.

That’s the finding of a Deloitte report prepared for Horticulture New Zealand to balance debate around land use and freshwater quality. 

Deloitte found that if vegetable growers are prevented from expanding to keep up with demand, by 2043, New Zealanders could be paying as much as $5.54 in today’s money for a Pukekohe-grown lettuce, instead of about $3.50. 

‘Big increases in fresh vegetable prices will have a negative impact on the health of New Zealand’s most vulnerable communities,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘Already one in five children do not have enough healthy food to eat[1] while malnutrition rates in children and older New Zealanders are also increasing.[2]’ 

Mike says vegetable growing across the country is under a lot of pressure: competition for highly productive land, access to freshwater, climate change mitigation, the need to further protect the environment, and increasing government and council regulation. 

‘If all these pressures are not well-managed in a coordinated, long-term way, New Zealand-grown fresh vegetables will become a luxury that few can afford.  This will have a negative impact on most New Zealanders’ health, putting even more pressure on our health system.’ 

Mike says New Zealand needs to increase not decrease the growing of fresh vegetables.    

‘We must increase vegetable growing so we can feed New Zealanders now and in the future, and have a healthy population.

‘Access to new irrigation to expand vegetable, fruit, berry and nut growing needs to be maintained, as it is a win-win situation.’ 

Mike says that what New Zealand really needs is a food security policy. 

‘A move towards increased food self-sufficiency and increased domestic production will improve New Zealand’s ability to feed itself, making us less dependent on imports.  This move would also ensure that fresh fruit and vegetables are more affordable, which would have a positive impact on the health of all New Zealanders, especially those who are less well off.’