Richard Burke, chief executive of LeaderBrand:

‘Food exports might push up the cost of living in New Zealand’

According to a NZ large-scale fresh produce grower, the nation’s food security could be in jeopardy as vegetable growers cannot afford to pay the same for wages and land that growers of high-value export fruit can. Richard Burke, chief executive of LeaderBrand, said vegetable growers had little opportunity to expand their operations by buying land to grow more produce on, because growers of export crops, such as apples or kiwifruit, were making large profits and could pay more for land.

That artificially pushed up land prices, Burke said. Vegetable growers could also not compete on wages with export growers, he added. Coupled with high prices for transport, fertiliser, fuel and high inflation, there were now huge risks involved in growing vegetables. Because growers had to pay more for land and labour, they had to ask more for their products to remain profitable. High food prices, and high prices for resources, were becoming a trend, he said. According to him, this could become a food security issue.


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