Courgette prices fall back to earth as growing season resumes but tomatoes remain expensive

Courgette prices reached an all-time high in July.
Courgette prices reached an all-time high in July. Photo credit: Getty

After reaching a record high in July, courgette prices fell back to earth in September, down 58 percent.

The price fell to a weighted average of $12.36 per kilo, according to the latest figures from Stats NZ. That was down from an all-time high of $29.60 in July.

The price spike in July came after imports of some fresh vegetables were banned from Queensland due to a plant virus there.

The lower prices in September were also due to the local growing season resuming and more local produce arriving back on shelves. 

"The increase in domestic supply has filled the gap left by a shortage of imported courgettes during the winter," Nicola Growden, Stats NZ consumer prices manager, said on Tuesday. 

"Courgette prices dropped sharply this month and are about $6 a kilo cheaper than the same time last year.

"Courgettes are typically at their cheapest in mid-summer (January and February) at around $5 to $6 a kilo," Growden said.

Prices for other fruit and vegetables also fell in September, including lettuce, which was down 24 percent, capsicum, which fell 34 percent, and cucumber, which was down 28 percent. 

Despite the drop in some prices, tomato prices remain high, increasing 44 percent in the year to a weighted average price in September of $13.26 per kilo.

The higher prices was attributed to uncertainty during the COVID-19 lockdown in April, when fewer tomatoes were planted.

"We are now seeing a shortage, three or four months after plantings were reduced, which has led to higher-than-normal prices," Growden said.

"The current price of a kilogram of tomatoes is $3.98 more expensive than the previous five-year average for the September months."

Growden said tomatoes are typically cheapest in mid-summer, with prices at less than $4 a kilo.