The price of grapes appears to be skyrocketing over lockdown, an Auckland Countdown store selling imported red and grapes for $17.99/kg and $18.99/kg on Wednesday.
But it's unlikely that supermarkets are deliberately skinning customers. Global supply chain issues are driving up prices, supermarkets say.
The Statistics New Zealand Food Price Index shows grape prices rose 32 percent in the month to August - 9.5 percent over the year. The weighted average price for grapes was $11.52/kg, Statistics New Zealand confirms. Tomatoes rose 16 percent, contributing to an overall 0.3 percent monthly increase in the price of food typically brought by Kiwis.
On Wednesday, the price of grapes at Countdown Mt Eden ranged from $17.99/kg to $18.99/kg. One small bag (497g) of red imported grapes cost $8.94 at the checkout.
Responding to questions about the current price of grapes, Countdown told Newshub global sea freight challenges are creating ongoing shipping delays. This is causing "availability issues" for a number of products, including grapes.
"To ensure in-store availability for our customers, we've been air freighting grapes into New Zealand for the last few weeks, however this type of freight does significantly impact transport costs and therefore our retail price," a Countdown spokesperson said.
The supermarket chain said it's been working with growers and transport partners. It hopes to sea freight grapes within a couple of weeks, saying this will help "bring down transport costs and the shelf price".
On Wednesday, the Pak'nSave Royal Oak website shows prices for green and red seedless grapes were $9.99/kg.
Foodstuffs NZ head of corporate affairs, Antoinette Laird, told Newshub the global supply chain has been "very lumpy" and expects this to continue for some time.
Its latest shipment of grapes, en route from California, has been delayed by "a couple of weeks". Grape supply in New Zealand is currently "squeezed", Laird said.
"Prices do vary at the shelf, and there are a few factors that contribute including: an exponential rise in shipping costs due to COVID-19, whether the produce arrives by air or ship, supply and demand, weather and seasonality."
While the price of grapes is extortionate, shoppers wanting healthy, cheaper alternatives could consider buying seasonal fruits, such as apples, oranges and mandarins, instead.