Avocado lovers paying top dollar after challenging season for growers

A challenging season for avocado growers has hit shoppers in the pocket with prices for the fruit skyrocketing. 

Avocado yields have been down for the main harvest and the season wrapped up earlier than usual.

Some growers had been coping with weather issues, while others reported damage to crops from wind burn and rot.

The lack of supply has been reflected in new figures from Stats NZ which show avocado prices more than doubled in March compared with February 2019.

"Avocado prices usually rise early in the year, and reach their highest levels around June," consumer prices manager Gael Price said.

"However, this March's increase was much bigger than usual. Avocado prices were $4.29 per 200g avocado, up from $3.12 per 200g in March 2018," she said.

Tomatoes cost an average of $5.20 a kilo in March 2019, 44 percent higher than February 2019 and 12 percent higher than March 2018.

Meanwhile butter prices fell for the second successive month. 

A 500g block of butter cost an average of $5.11 in March 2019, down from a series-high $5.79 in January 2019.

Fruit prices overall rose 5.5 percent in March 2019, an increase of 2.7 percent in the year to March 2019.

Overall food prices rose 0.5 percent in March.