Coronavirus: Surplus fresh produce could benefit food charities

Growers who may be forced to dump fresh produce because of the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are being encouraged to donate it to local food charities.

Under the lockdown, most of the independent fruit and vegetable stores and produce markets they supply have been closed.

The level 4 alert also means they can't supply restaurants and cafes, and many say they are facing devastation.

Industry group HortNZ is in discussions with the Government about reopening the independent stores. 

However in the meantime, it has been working with food rescue charity, Fair Food who are coordinating with other food rescue centres throughout New Zealand.

In a message to growers, HortNZ said Fair Food was keen to put growers in touch with a food rescue organisation in their area. 

"During this difficult time, there are many families who are struggling to access fresh food for many reasons like no money, lack of transport and complex health needs who would greatly benefit from access to fresh fruit and vegetables.

"The food rescue organisations are used to dealing with fresh produce and understand it's perishability and handling requirements," it said.

HortNZ had an agreement with Fair Food so growers could supply product with confidence that it would be appropriately handled and distributed.