According to New Zealand growers, the nation’s supermarkets demand perfectly formed fruit and vegetables. However, this level of perfection requires pesticides.
The biggest supermarkets - Countdown, Pak 'n Save and New World - dictate the colour, shape and size that growers must adhere to in order to get their produce onto their shelves, a large grower says.
The grower, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says that if farmers don't grow to the specifications, the produce is rejected by supermarket inspectors and must be thrown out. The specifications would be "impossible" to achieve through organic farming, he says. "The last thing we want is food waste. We want to be maximising the production of that food because everything we produce has an environmental impact.”
Produce that is rejected has "nothing to do with flavours", says another grower who would not be named for fear of reprisal from supermarkets.
The grower says pesticide use is managed carefully. "We have a team of agronomists that are constantly checking the crops. We don't intervene unless it needs something. Conventional produce is independently assessed as being safe and healthy, through certifiers Global GAP and Growsafe.”