Banana shortage strikes following shipping delays
Supermarkets across the country are running low on bananas, with some shelves completely empty, due to a shipping delay.
A ship carrying loose bananas, which are imported from Mexico, Ecuador and the Philippines, had to change its route, a Countdown spokesperson said.
‘‘It is a national issue but supply varies from store to store.’’
Foodstuffs, which owns super- market chains New World and Pak’n Save, is also dealing with the shortage relating to shipping issues.
‘‘Banana supplies are short right now due to unforeseen shipping issues, but the good news is we expect supply to be back to normal by the end of the month,’’ Foodstuffs spokeswoman Antoinette Laird said.
Stuart Urbahn, the store manager of Countdown’s branch in The Valley Mega Centre in New Plymouth, said his store was usually running out of bananas by 3pm due to the shortage.
‘‘There are some bananas but there is not enough to service all Countdowns. Nine times out of 10 we are running out by about 3pm.
‘‘We’re only putting a little bit out at a time.’’
Bananas are the top-selling item at Countdown supermarkets but the shortage would not increase prices, although they had gradually increased in the last few weeks, Urbahn said.
‘‘Bananas are normally No1 out of anything we’re selling in the supermarket every week. The only time bananas get beaten is at Christmas time when strawberries become No 1.’’
Urbahn said he was expecting bananas to be in store in the next week to week and a half.
New World New Plymouth’s produce manager, Pakasit Hobin, said he was hoping to see bananas in store ‘‘by later on next week’’.
Hobin said that when the bananas did arrive in New Zealand they would have to go through inspection, and it could be two or three days before they were released onto supermarket shelves.
A similar shortage happened in 2016 when a boat transporting bananas broke down off the coast of Ecuador. Almost a year prior, in 2015, the same situation occurred.
In 2014 bad weather in the Philippines affected banana-growing conditions, which also caused a shortage.
Bananas are Countdown’s top-selling item, except at Christmas when strawberry sales take the No 1 spot.