Nothing says Kiwi summer like fresh strawberries, and that’s why they’re a staple on the Christmas dinner table — whether it’s served with cream, adorning the top of a crispy pavlova, or simply part of a grazing board for snacking on throughout the day.
But before you lock in your Christmas dessert plans, you might want to take a look at just how much strawberries will cost you.
Thanks to inflation, fresh fruit and vegetables have been one of the costlier items on our shopping lists this year, though prices fell 3.9 per cent in September, according to Stats NZ data. Fresh berries can feel like a luxury you can’t afford, and in the weeks leading up to the big day, they tend to get even more expensive at the supermarket.
How much do strawberries cost right now?
We’ve been keeping an eye on strawberry prices throughout the week, and they range from reasonable — the average supermarket price seems to sit at around $5 for a 250g punnet — to as much as $12 for 250g.
We visited several Auckland supermarkets to see how much strawberries cost right now.
At a central Auckland Countdown, 250g punnets were going for $5 each — $3.40 for a punnet if you opt for their Odd Bunch range — while over at New World, a 250g punnet cost $4.99, and we spotted a 250g pack for $3.99 at a New World Metro. At one Auckland New World store, a Herald team member spotted 250g on sale for $12.
Strawberries on sale for $5 a 250g punnet at New World. Photo / NZ Herald
At Pak’nSave, a 250g punnet would set you back $5 this week. But over at specialty grocery store Farro, a kilogram of strawberries would set you back a whopping $27.99 — or $6.99 per 250g.
Strawberries on sale for $27.99 for 1kg at Farro. Photo / NZ Herald
And at a Four Square in central Auckland, 250g of strawberries were on special for $3.99.
250g of strawberries on sale for $3.99 at Four Square. Photo / NZ Herald
We also came across a roadside stall selling three 250g punnets for $10, and 2 for $7 — undoubtedly the most inexpensive option so far.
A roadside stall in Auckland selling three punnets of strawberries for $10. Photo / NZ Herald
Are strawberries more expensive than normal this year?
After a year of bad weather and an unexpected shortage of strawberry plants, growers are already experiencing a tougher season than normal.
In June, it was reported that severe weather in Bay of Plenty meant the country’s supply of strawberry plants was down by a third — last year, 13.5 million plants were sold, while this year it was estimated only 9 million were available to commercial and home growers.
Kaihoke Berries general manager Todd Jackson told the Northern Advocate in September that because of the shortage, fewer strawberries would be available this summer, so prices would go up.
“I think if everyone’s prepared to dip into their pockets, you’ll definitely have a strawberry or two,” he said.
“There’s no doubt that the price of strawberries is going to increase this year. That’s just supply and demand.”
Strawberry Growers NZ manager Sally King tells the Herald that despite the shortage of plants, the season is “going well” so far.
“It has been quite cool so that means we have fewer fruit at the moment, so perhaps a little firmer in price. We get bigger volumes very soon and supply and demand drives price.
“The first flush of strawberries is over by mid-December,” she explains.
“So the supply is a little tighter on Christmas week, but there are always some strawberries to be found for the Christmas pavlova.”
King notes it’s supermarkets and retailers that determine the price shoppers pay at the checkout, not the growers themselves, and there’s no set wholesale cost as there are “a variety of ways” that growers sell to supermarkets.
In September, a new grocery code of conduct came into effect, aiming to make things fairer for suppliers following the Commerce Commission’s report into the supermarket duopoly — meaning suppliers or retailers like supermarkets “can’t increase their prices willy-nilly”, Sasha Borissenko wrote for the Herald at the time.
So, will supermarkets be putting prices up before Christmas this strawberry season? We’ll have to wait and see.
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