Food Prices, Food Prices

There has a lot of talk in the media recently, and in homes too I’m sure, about the escalating food prices and the price of fresh produce in particular.

Here are just two of the recent articles, one from the NZ Herald and one from the Business Desk of One News.  In essence, fresh produce gets the blame for the increase in the weekly shop, and we can’t have high fresh fruit and vegetable prices now, can we?  Apparently fresh produce, along with potable water and petrol, are a basic human right and shouldn’t be expensive… especially in this time of rising obesity and the associated spiraling health costs.

What a burden to place upon the humble tomato and broccoli!

The thing is, and I think the media has missed the point again, there is nothing more natural than the cycle of bud, blossom, fruit, harvest.  When it is ready – eat it.  It is an irrefutable law of nature; there are some things we humans can not alter – try though we might.

But it is the 21st Century! We can have anything, anytime!

Well, yes – yes you can.  If you are prepared to pay for it.

When you buy your fresh produce item out of its season, then you are paying a premium for the logistics required to make it available to you.  The flip side of that statement is this: your local grower, being part of this 21st Century global market, will send his produce off shore if he knows he’ll make a better return on it.

Which brings us to that other law: the one about price being driven by supply and demand.

Fresh produce is particularly sensitive to this law.  For example: in season, with a good volume crop, strawberry prices quite naturally will be around the $2 to $3/punnet level.  And that volume crop will sell – there’s a demand because Kiwis love their strawberries, especially at Christmas.  But if the volume available is reduced thanks to bad weather, the price will rise and the market will bear it because the demand is there.  To a point.  As we have seen from the media, fresh produce prices aren’t “allowed” to be too high.  But as I’ve said before – why shouldn’t the grower get a return for his efforts?  Every other business owner is in the business of making a profit, why is the grower excluded from that basic business tenet?

Whilst this article from The Guardian has some good points, it still assumes that people have access/ time/ skills to do the things it suggests.  Where does that leave the high-density urban dweller?

Back at the supermarket, wondering why she can’t buy local tomatoes at a decent price anymore…


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