Lack of market access still concerns New Zealand growers in level 3 response

From later next week businesses and industries not considered essential, but able to demonstrate they can operate safely, could be back up and running if the government on Monday announces a move to level 3.

Head of Horticulture New Zealand, Mike Chapman, said that was good news for orchard development programmes as construction, trades and manufacturing look set to be revived. But Chapman said concern remained for vegetable growers, who still would not have access to a large and important market: "Our real concern remains around vegetables and vegetable supply. With restaurants and fast-food outlets closed we haven't been able to sell vegetables through these outlets which has meant a lot of growers have nowhere to sell their produce."

Chapman said if there was nowhere to sell, growers were not planting and, down the track, that would mean less vegetable available.

Chapman also said Horticulture New Zealand estimated that nationwide, between 20 and 30 percent of vegetables in particular were sold through outlets other than supermarkets.

"Those growers supplying that portion of the market - one third, aren't growing because they can't sell. The more certainty we can give growers the more certainty we have about food security in the future."

Chapman said the government was doing the right thing with its approach, but it was important to be able to keep the crop cycle running, from planting to growing to harvest.

According to nzherald.co.nz, the lack of market access at level 3 still a concern for growers, as many consumers still won't be able to get their greens. From later next week businesses and industries not considered essential, but able to demonstrate they can operate safely, could be back up and running if the government announces on Monday a move to level 3.

Stuff.co.nz reported that New Zealand could see a shortage in vegetables if independent growers decide not to plant due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And although the wine industry isn't struggling with production, for some, selling wine will be a continuous challenge. 

Level 3 would see the hospitality industry remain closed, leaving independent growers with the  difficult decision on whether they chose to plant produce or not. Chapman said Horticulture New Zealand was fully supportive of the government's decisions on lockdown, but believed there was an assumption that many New Zealanders brought their fruit and vegetables from supermarkets.

"The thing is they don't, 60 per cent of fruit and vegetables sold in Auckland is from independent fruit and vegetable retailers. Auckland has the highest percentage of independent retail and in rural areas people are very reliant on the fruit and vegetable stores that the grower runs."


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