New Zealand faces 'perfect storm' of vegetable shortages

  • 02/11/2017
Land is taken over by housing and extreme weather damaging crops.
Land is taken over by housing and extreme weather damaging crops. Photo credit: Getty

New Zealand faces being unable to feed our population with domestically grown fresh fruit and vegetables, a new report warns.

Horticulture New Zealand calls it a "perfect storm" as land is taken over by housing and extreme weather damages crops.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says we could face food shortages in the future, and it's time to develop a national food security strategy.

"Our current consumption levels of fresh produce show that net production is already below what is required for domestic consumption, meaning we can expect food shortages if we can't get that balance of supply from imports," Mr Chapman says.

"Prime fruit and vegetable growing land is being squeezed by rapid growth in towns and cities and high demand for new housing. Changes in weather patterns and extreme unseasonal weather events are becoming more frequent and damaging, impacting the supply and, consequently, the price of fresh, healthy food."

The report, New Zealand domestic vegetable production: the growing story, was released on Thursday. It looks at the factors that go into getting vegetables from the field to the plate, and it examines the challenges to supply.

"Things are changing fast, so we need to look closely at our domestic food supply and be sure that town, city and regional planning decisions are seen in the context of impacting the whole of New Zealand's food supply," Mr Chapman says.

"We need to future-proof the resources required to supply food to our growing population, and this report looks at this with the backdrop of global megatrends, including rapidly changing consumer demands, growing populations, urbanisation and the impact of life-style blocks on horticulture, emerging technology and the emphasis on sustainability."