Kiwis are being urged to continue eating at least five plus servings of fresh fruit and vegetables every day and to shop in season for great value.
The Statistics New Zealand food price index, which measures changes in food prices, showed vegetable prices jumped 7.6 per cent in June, with courgettes cited as the most expensive example – up 74 per cent in one month – along with lettuce (53 per cent rise) and tomatoes (27 per cent). None of these products are in season in the middle of winter so to enjoy them you will be paying more.
But 5+ A Day Charitable Trust General Manager Paula Dudley says there are obvious explanations for these anomalies and pointed out that fruit prices actually dropped 1.5 per cent last month, with kiwifruit, apples, carrots and potatoes all now cheaper than they were in May 2020.
“Negative headlines about how expensive fresh fruit and vegetables are, can have a damaging effect on our nation’s health,” Dudley says. “Some consumers may avoid buying fresh produce as a result – but in the midst of a global pandemic, Kiwis cannot afford not to eat 5+ A Day.
“Our message to New Zealanders is simple – shop local, and shop in season for the best value for money. Your body will get the nutrition it needs and you won’t blow your budget.”
Dudley says courgettes are expensive right now because they’re not in season and imports from Queensland are currently banned due to a disease issue. Seasonal fluctuations and drought-conditions in some growing areas were to blame for other price rises.
Instead of buying out of season products, Kiwis should focus on affordable winter produce such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, celery, leeks, silverbeet, spinach and Asian vegetables which are all cheap and in plentiful supply.
“In terms of fruit, New Zealand Navel oranges are in season now, apples and pears are abundant at this time of year, and kiwifruit are also in season and add a real hit of vitamin C which will boost your immune system during winter and support healthy bones, cartilage, teeth, gums and skin.”
The wide range of vitamins and minerals found in fresh produce are important for your entire body including cardiovascular health, brain function and development, and healthy digestion.
“5+ A Day is genuinely concerned that people might avoid the one supermarket aisle they should focus on the most because they don’t understand the importance and benefits of shopping in season,” Dudley says.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation recommend people eat three or more servings of vegetables and at least two servings of fruit every day for optimum health.