Thursday, July 30, 2009

The price of fruit

Early in the year Tiffany arrived home from the supermarket with a bag of passion fruit. She had miss read the label. They were reduced stock and for about 8 the bag was marked as $11.99 a kg. However she had miss read this as $1.99 for the bag (so did I when I first saw the bag). So she nearly had kittens when it cost her about $7, instead of $2. But she decided to purchase them anyway cause they are sooooooo yummy.

How the price of what was effectively $1 a passion fruit - and this was on special got me thinking. Over the last few months I have checked out prices of fruit that can be grown in our region. I have been surprised to find out how expensive "non standard" fruit is. For example tree tomatoes / tamarillos, fejioa, persimmons are all way above the standard fruits like orange, apples or kiwifruit.

Tiffany uses the rule of thumb that if it is <$3 then this is great value and buy lots. We then supplement this what I ferret out locally. As I have a mental "map" of what is in our area, and when it comes ripe we have quite a variety of in season fruit, hence successful days of gathering produce.

So checking the prices of in season fruit in the supermarket was quite an eye opener. I have come to the conclusion that large orchards produce things for export market. In doing so it (1) produces crates full of fruit that is not up to export standard so is sold domestically and (2) if they cannot get a good price for it overseas that they then dump it on NZ market. This then results in supermarkets and fruit shops purchase large volumes through auction houses like Turners and Growers. (3) large volumes of fruit come in cheaply from overseas as NZ purchases fruit that is in season from other areas. Because this is done in bulk it results in cheap prices.

So there is no space for the family orchard that produces a small volume to see on the local market as there is no way to interface with the national supermarket chains or the fruit shops. For example we live close to a persimmon orchard. They produce for export.... thus while hundreds of fruit rot on the ground local people are starving their bodies due to low nutrient diets.

This upsets me. I know that people have a choice, and they could bike (or travel by car) to the orchard and collect things for their families. But if you have a habit of purchasing at the supermarket you are locked into a low variety of fruit, that is not sourced locally, is picked green and has spent an undermined length in cool storage.

To finish the story Tiffany and I are hoping for our first crop of passionfruit this coming summer/Autumn. We have two vines climbing up the north face of my shed. One is they typical purple fruit, the other I have grown from seeds that a neighbour gave me and this is a yellow variety.

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