A doctor battling the country's obesity epidemic says the
"tragically" high fruit and vegetable prices need to be
forced down, and junk food prices need to hit consumers in
Fruit and vegetable costs rose by 3.5 per cent in January
from December prices, Statistics NZ reported.
For the year to January, fruit and vegetables cost an extra
5.9 per cent.
Those figures have prompted Dr Robyn Toomath, the spokeswoman
for Fight the Obesity Epidemic, to urge the Government to
bring prices of healthy food down.
"It seems kind of tragic to me.
"This is the time of the year where you expect fruit and
vegetables to be at their most affordable, but still they're
powering on up, and what drives this, who knows?"
Ministry of Health nutritional studies show fruit and
vegetable consumption by New Zealanders was well below what
it should be, Dr Toomath said.
"What are we doing to increase fruit and vegetable
consumption? And the answer would appear to be 'absolutely
"I can't think of a single solitary thing which is being done
at a regulatory level to assist in fruit and vegetable
Unhealthy foods appeared to be getting cheaper, while healthy
foods were becoming unaffordable, she said.
The Government needed to adjust tax rates, she added.
"That's not only reconsidering taking GST off fruit and
vegetables, which is so blindingly obvious that that's where
we have to start, but it also includes adding a tax to the
unhealthy food so that people can compare the costs of buying
kids milk as opposed to soft drink, and realise that milk is
the better value for money."
Dr Toomath said councils could also be urged to encourage
"Can they provide free space for vegetable growers to sell
their stuff at the weekend?"
Councils could also set aside public land for people to grow
their own vegetables, she said.
Big industries controlled what foods were sold and at what
prices, and people had a right to demand that the environment
was manipulated in a way that was "helpful and not harmful",
Dr Toomath said.
Fruit and vege monthly price rises and falls for January
made up partly of:
* mandarins up 23 per cent;
* apples up 7.7 per cent;
* lettuce up 20 per cent; and
* broccoli up 38 per cent;
* apple prices were at their highest level since December
* nectarines down 23 per cent; and
* pumpkin down 13 per cent.
Fruit and vege yearly price rise and falls to January made up
* kumara up 98 per cent;
* apples up 21 per cent;
* avocados up 86 per cent
(Source NZ Statistics)