Vege prices ‘ridiculous’
Eating healthily has rarely been more expensive with vegetable prices rising to their highest level in almost six years in May.
A record annual hike in vegetable prices is ‘‘ridiculous’’ and ‘‘absurd’’, one restaurant owner said.
Owner of Adam Arnold, Tobias Roebuck-Ward, said the restaurant in Ponsonby spent 42 per cent of its food sales on produce last week. Typically it spent between 30 and 35 per cent.
The cost can be blamed on a 31 per cent rise in vegetable prices since May last year, Statistics New Zealand figures showed.
Statistics NZ consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said the pricing was a result of wet autumn weather contrasting with warmer-than-usual weather and cheap prices last year.
Roebuck-Ward said the rise in prices was difficult for his restaurant because it had a no freezer philosophy and bought fresh produce daily.
‘‘We do not have the ability to buy bulk and store it.’’
The rise in prices could prove detrimental to restaurants this winter because the cold weather already made it difficult to fill tables on week nights, he said.
However, the restaurant would soon change its menu for the winter season.
But he said some menu staples could removed from its menu.
Lettuce cost his business $14 a kilogram last week. Spinach was $13 a kg.
The ingredients were crucial for salads, garnishing and its most popular weekend breakfast dish, eggs benedict.
Statistics NZ said the average price of a 500 gram lettuce was $5.28 in May, compared with $2.12 in May last year, and tomatoes and broccoli were also expensive.
Roebuck-Ward said he would absorb the higher vegetable prices rather than pass the cost on to customers, even if prices continued to rise.
High seasonal prices for at least some vegetables appear to be persisting into June.
Avocados were selling for $7.49 each at Fruitworld in Auckland on Tuesday, and $6.50 online at Countdown.
Overall, grocery prices rose 1.7 per cent in the year to May, with 500g blocks of butter costing a record $4.80, compared with $3.73 the year prior.
Monthly food prices up were up 2.4 per cent in May. pricey not be