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

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