Similar as every other year – its winter
In the last few weeks there has been so much media around the higher-than-normal price for capsicums especially. Tomatoes and cucumbers and other greenhouse vegetables have also been highlighted. Well simply this is the same story repeated every year since I can remember. It is called supply and demand. If there is little supply and demand is present then if you want the product you have to be willing to pay more. Is this good for the consumer on a budget – NO but is the fault of the grower NO definitely not.
Capsicums are (generally) only replanted as early as March with plantings right up until late July. It is not like tomatoes and cucumbers that are planted during every month of the year. There are small volumes of capsicums on the market now from the early March plantings. However, the volumes currently being picked are in relation to the winter light levels. Unlike other growers the plans for planting dates are pretty much set in stone for capsicum growers due to NZ unique growing conditions. I have seen growers plant capsicums in September and October only for the crops to be have large issues with not enough leaf area index to provide sufficient environmental control – these crops ended up with lots of blossom end rot and were very hard to balance. You can take a risk if you do decide to plant in spring/summer for the local winter market but success could be hit or miss. I think that if it was able to be done successfully on a commercial basis, it would have been done before.
Tomato and cucumber prices are high as well but that is a reflection of winter, the abysmal weather in June (warm, wet and dark) and now the fantastic but cold weather of early July. Talking with a grower on the West Coast – they avoided much of the rain in recent days and their transport links to Christchurch are still open. I don’t see prices shifting too much for the next few months as the fruit that is setting now is doing so in winter conditions. The light levels are just starting to increase again and spring is now only six weeks away but until then growers that have managed to pick during this period with good quality should make decent returns.
We all know as growers the Winter will have a large bearing on supply. Capsicum prices are higher than normal because there is little or no imports due to the farcical predicament that shipping and airlines find themselves in. I just hope when the spring and summer production comes that those companies will be able to export without any issues otherwise like last years tomato prices their will be some bargains at your local supermarket.
Check out Stats NZ latest interesting weighted average price. Interesting fact that is not mentioned in any of the articles is that in the summer of 2020-21 capsicum growers were achieving the lowest price since at least the summer of 2015-16.