12 Nov 2009

Fruit and veges not reason for food hikes - Hort NZ

6:05 am on 12 November 2009

The national horticulture body is questioning the Government's view that the dramatic increase in the price of food is due mainly to the rise in the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables.

An Australian study found the price of food in New Zealand has gone up by more than 42.5% since 2000, the second highest increase among OECD countries.

Consumer Affairs Minister Heather Roy says statistics show fruit and vegetable prices, including the cost of organic food, have been a major contributor to that.

A senior business manager with Horticulture New Zealand, Ken Robertson, takes issue with the Government's interpretation of food prices.

He says changes in the past year in the way Statistics New Zealand reports the food price index make it difficult to compare those figures.

And he says growers certainly aren't reaping any of the benefits of higher fruit and vegetable prices.

The organics sector is also questioning how much impact organic food prices would have on overall costs.

Organics Aotearoa New Zealand executive officer Gavin Middleton says there's been a significant lift in organic food sales, but it still only amounts to 1% to 2% of total food consumption.