Tomatoes on sale for 8 cents per kg as prices slump to 12-year low

By Riley Kennedy of RNZ

Tomato prices have slumped even further, after a record low price yesterday.

On Wednesday, a Hastings supermarket was selling four tonnes of tomatoes for nine cents a kilo.

Today, Royal Oak Pak 'n' Save in Auckland is selling the fruit for eight cents a kilo.

A post on the store's Facebook page said the Pukekohe Tomatoes were limited to 3kg per customer.

The pressure the COVID-19 pandemic is putting on freight movements is being blamed for a tomato glut in the domestic market.

Tomatoes New Zealand general manager Helen Barnes said prices that low were not profitable.

Tomato growers had been struggling to get product off-shore, which had lead to an oversupply in the local market, Barnes said.

"We would normally be exporting large quantities to Australia and the Pacific Islands at this time of the year, but they just aren't going.

"There has been a shortage of freight and freight costs have been increased because of Covid, and in those particular markets there is not as much demand.

"Which means there is a lot more tomatoes staying on shore."

Hopefully it was a short term glut, Barnes said.

However, there was no sign of the export market improving.

According to new figures from Statistics NZ out today, Tomato prices fell 14 percent last month to its cheapest level in 12 years.

Also, the price of apples fell 26 percent last month, while strawberry prices rose 27 percent.

Meanwhile, cauliflower prices were up 36 percent and grapes up 12 percent.

Statistics NZ consumer prices manager Katrina Dewbery said towards the end of summer it was typical to see large drops for apples and rises for strawberries.

"Last February, apple prices fell 26 percent and strawberry prices rose 22 percent."

In the meat department, the price for chicken pieces were down 9 percent in the past 12 months to February 2021.

"Prices for chicken pieces have trended down since the series began in August 2015."