25 Aug 2015

Four days of a nationwide banana shortage

7:02 pm on 25 August 2015

Supermarkets and grocers are warning of a short-lived banana shortage and wholesalers say there could be four days without any bananas.

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Photo: 123rf.com

The cargo ship bringing the fruit from Ecuador broke down a couple of weeks ago, and a back up shipment is expected to arrive on Friday but the fruit won't be ripe for another week.

A produce marketing and distribution company, Fresh Max, is telling its customers to manage their stock during the shortage.

Its Wellington division manager, Jeff Robertson, said the company was keeping a close eye on its own banana stocks.

"We're trying to stretch our stocks with ripening, to wait for that next vessel to arrive.

"Numbers are light out in the marketplace at the moment and there's a delay with second vessel so there could be a first in the industry with no bananas around for about three or four days."

The two major supermarket chains, Foodstuffs and Progressive, both said they would not have as many bananas as usual, and it will be two weeks before stocks are back to normal.

The Allgood Banana company, who supply fair trade bananas to supermarkets and grocers, said they opened five years ago and this is the first time they've had to manage a shortage like this.

Its founder Matthew Morrison said they were prepared.

"We got news that the ship was having issues and so we were able to slow down the ripening schedule and try and smooth out the lack of bananas so that we could have some bananas available each day throughout the shortage."

The ship from South America is due to arrive in Auckland late this Friday.

However, he said those bananas would not be on the shelf until the end of next week.

"The bananas will go through the inspection process by the Ministry of Primary Industries and then they will be fumigated and then they will be into their ripening process which may take between four and six days."

Mr Morrison said it will be a case of first-in-first-served in supermarkets - which is tough news for father-of-three, Pav Sharma, who was at the Wellington Library pre-school storytime today.

Mr Sharma said his daughter Hannah ate about three bananas a day.

Pav Sharma with his son Leon and daughter Hannah, who eats about about three bananas a day.

Pav Sharma with his son Leon and daughter Hannah, who eats about about three bananas a day. Photo: RNZ/Alexa Cook

"My three-year-old will be quite cranky if there are no bananas in the supermarket.

"It's sometimes the only thing that she will eat during the daytime, so we would be quite concerned if there was a lack of bananas."

Mr Sharma said if there were no bananas, then pears and mandarins would have to do.