Auckland greengrocers left out of trading in level 3 again

Author
Newstalk ZB / RNZ,
Publish Date
Thu, 13 Aug 2020, 1:13PM
Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman. Photo / Supplied

Auckland greengrocers left out of trading in level 3 again

Author
Newstalk ZB / RNZ,
Publish Date
Thu, 13 Aug 2020, 1:13PM

Horticulture New Zealand is frustrated that independent greengrocers in the Auckland area are being forced to close under the level 3 lockdown.

The industry fought hard last lockdown to try to get government approval to continue trading - warning of food waste and financial loss - but was unsuccessful.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman said it was disheartening that independent grocers in Auckland were once again being put back in this position. He said the disruption to the supply chain meant that there would very likely be wasted produce.

"We understand from government that in the level 3 restriction areas, that the independent fruit and vegetable retailers cannot open," he said.

"The issue here is about getting produce to the public, and in Auckland 60 per cent of the fresh fruit and vegetables is sold through independent retailers and through the farmers' markets, so it's really important to keep these stores open."

Chapman said discussions with the Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor and Ministry for Primary Industries were ongoing.

Despite greengrocers having to close, vegetable growers in the Auckland area are still able to operate. Farmers and growers are considered an essential service and could continue working providing they follow hygiene and social distancing guidelines.

The area under level 3 restrictions includes Pukekohe, a key vegetable growing area.

Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association president Kylie Faulkner said the safety precautions implemented last lockdown were all being rolled out again.

"So face masks, social distancing, work bubbles ... because first and foremost obviously is looking after our own staff and ensuring their safety and making sure that we can still keep doing what we do - to be able to cut and provide fresh veggies," Faulkner said.

Faulkner said growers would be working hard to keep supermarkets well stocked. But she said having greengrocers open would make this easier and would not cause such a logjam of people trying to all get to the supermarket.

In a statement, MPI said under the level 3 guidelines retail businesses could operate, as long as they could offer contactless delivery or pickup.

"Consumers cannot physically browse for goods. This includes greengrocers," it said.

By Maja Burry of RNZ.