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New Zealand has the highest rate of banana consumption in the world per capita, and supplies were expected to be down 30% this week.
Mechanical problems with a ship forced a shipment of New Zealand-bound Dole bananas to return to the Philippines, sending grocery chains scrambling to source more from an already weather-affected supply.
Foodstuffs retail general manager Alan Malcolmson yesterday confirmed the shortage, expecting it to last three weeks at the most.
The grocery giant, which operates New World, Pak'n Save and Four Square brands, had sourced Bonita bananas from South America, which normally make up only a small part of its banana stock, to alleviate the shortfall.
Asked if customers could expect bananas to be on shelves 24/7, he said that depended on the logistics of getting bananas through.
Peter Hendry, chief executive of MG Marketing, Foodstuffs' main banana supplier, said the supply of the fruit for this week would be down 30% due to the vessel breaking down.
A new shipment was expected to arrive in Auckland on Friday, with supply to retail expected to be back to normal from the following Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for Australian-owned Progressive Enterprises (Countdown, Fresh Choice and SuperValue) said bananas were sourced from both the Philippines and Ecuador but some effect from the shipment delay was expected.
Veggie Boys co-owner Marty Hay said the independent fruit and vegetable store notified its customers of the shortage last week.