Jerry Prendergast, President of United Fresh New Zealand, remarked that over the past ten months, barring a late summer drought in Horowhenua, growing conditions across the country have been exceptional. He noted that the combination of rain and warm sunshine has been arriving in perfect harmony.

According to Prendergast, the ability to plant and harvest vegetables has been unparalleled, resulting in significant yields and remarkably low losses. This abundance has led to a surplus in supply and subsequently, lower prices, making it a buyer’s market for consumers.

He emphasized that the value of fruit and vegetables, particularly green leaf vegetables and root vegetables, has reached levels not seen since before the Covid-19 pandemic, possibly spanning over five years. Prices are currently 20 to 25 percent lower than they were at this time last year.

However, despite the boon for consumers, growers are not reaping the benefits financially. Prendergast lamented that the surplus produce has not translated into increased profits for growers. In fact, many are operating at a loss, as the current returns fall below the cost of production.

Prendergast acknowledged that growers have the option to refrain from planting, but he deemed this a risky proposition. With the unpredictable nature of the market, abstaining from planting could lead to missed opportunities and potential financial strain.

He stressed the importance of aligning planting schedules with customer expectations and market demand. While growers must navigate the fluctuations in supply and demand, Prendergast underscored the necessity of increasing vegetable consumption. Despite the lower prices, consumer behavior has not shifted significantly, highlighting the need for a cultural shift towards prioritizing vegetable consumption.

In conclusion, Prendergast emphasized that despite the challenges faced by growers, there has never been a better time for consumers to incorporate more vegetables into their diets.