Now that the supermarket panic-buying seems to have calmed down, stores are reporting a return to some sense of calm since the nation’s lockdown began. Prices have been high for many necessities as people stockpiled, but one food group that doesn't work well with stockpiling is fruit and vegetable.
Fruit and veg retailer Glenn Forsyth said panic buying had affected prices, and smaller stores like greengrocers needed to be allowed to continue trading. "Demand exceeded supply by a long shot. Shelves have been emptied, now shops will have to sell their expensive stock first and as products start to build up again you'll see prices fall at the market and you'll see prices fall next week at retail too."
The problem of high prices lies with panic buying putting pressure on supply chains. "Had people just bought supplies for two to three days at a time we wouldn't have experienced these super high prices and then a crash," Forsyth said. "Produce is very sensitive to the supply and demand model but the growers want to let people know, we are not going to run out of fruit and vegetables in New Zealand."
And what happens to the stock that big supermarkets usually don't take and it goes to grocery and independent stores? Forsyth said some of the misfits and odd bunch ranges would go to supermarkets but it was a problem that needed addressing.
"There's a lot more produce than this to go around which is why we need the greengrocers to stay open and keep competition alive with prices to us, the public ... with restaurants, greengrocers and independent stores closed, the supermarkets have tripled their business overnight. This puts an incredible amount of pressure on the supply chains to these stores, not to mention that they have more of a captive audience and can charge handsomely as a result.”
He said he had been speaking to producers across the country who overnight have been left with backlogs of fresh stock that will likely have to be dumped.