Vegetable wholesalers say fresh produce market is most volatile they have ever seen

Vegetable wholesalers say the fresh produce market is the most volatile they have ever seen it.

The price of lettuce, kumara and broccoli is skyrocketing.

Growers are urging people to ditch meal plans and wing it when shopping for produce.

This South Auckland lettuce farm is bathed in glorious sunshine on Friday and it's hard to imagine what the big floods did to the crop here one month ago. 

"We pretty much lost all of it," The Fresh Grower's Allan Fong told Newshub

Two months' turnover was wiped out so to try to recover, Fong has just raised his prices. 

"Everybody is not out there to take advantage, we are just trying to make the best of a bad situation," Fong said.

The lettuce supply shortage is so acute, even an Auckland KFC had run out when Newshub stopped by. 

Icebergs cost up to $7 a head right now, and that's not the only flood-hit crop with kumara grown in Northland up to $14 a kilogram and broccolis are up to $6 a head. 

Those who work on the wholesale market floor have never seen such a widespread price-hike. 

"You normally would have weather events that would affect one area - but to have this consistency of extremes is just unbelievable," United Fresh president Jerry Prendergast told Newshub.

Prendergast has urged shoppers to ditch the meal plan and be flexible. 

"You may go thinking I've got broccoli or cauliflower in mind, but it may be more appropriate to do a cabbage slaw. You may want to do kumara, but a pumpkin will suffice," he said.

Interestingly, apples grown in flood-hit Hawkes Bay - are still affordable with the popular Royal Gala at $4.50 a kilogram or less. 

But - because they can be refrigerated for a long time, we're mostly eating fruit picked before Cyclone Gabrielle. 

Prendergast believes a price hike is likely coming down the track. 

"So the challenges on apples will come October, November, December." 

So, with such a volatile market - what can people get for a reasonable price - right now? 

People can get capsicum for around $1.70 each or a whole pumpkin for $7. Courgettes are a reasonable price at the moment at $5 a kilo and cucumbers are about $2. And for those of you with your heart set on that broccoli, Prendergast's prediction is they will be back down to $2 a head by next week. 

Although growers are planting as fast as they can - lettuces aren't expected to come down in price for another few weeks.