Fruit & veg: Yet another NZ vs AU comparison

So I've just returned from visiting Sydney where the only fruit that was over $5/kg in ALDI was (presumably ex-NZ, though I didn't check) avocados. I was wandering around ALDI thinking I'd gone back in time 5 years. Let me illustrate:

ALDI vs PaknSave:

  • Grapes $3.49 vs $11.99
  • Bananas $3.49 vs $3.29 if they're even in stock
  • Plums $3.49 vs $9.99
  • Avocados $1.79ea or $5.49/kg vs $2.79ea or $6.99 2pk
  • Nectarines, peaches $4.49 vs $6.99-8.99
  • Loose tomatoes $4.49 vs $8.99

I lived there for a few years to 2018 and fruit was my holdout for NZ price comparisons: you could always get almost anything all year round in NZ, and when it was in season it was dirt cheap. Now almost every fruit (including occasionally bananas) are more expensive in NZ than Australia, with stone fruit regularly hitting $8-9/kg. Flooding in Hawke's Bay? Maybe that's got a little to do with a few of them, but I don't know if we'll ever see prices go down again.

Summary: there's no comparison. Australia is officially cheaper for almost everything: fuel, food, houses, rent, accessible healthcare. Tears my poor Kiwi heart to pieces.


  • +2

    I work in recruitment and our expertise is in horticulture. One of our clients is the biggest tomato grower in New Zealand. We have provided them with local NZ workers charging them around $28.9/hour and us paying the workers $24.5/hour ( we take care of paye, acc, holiday pay etc…yes we were running at a loss that's why we ended up severing the contract after raising our price to $30/hour and them not agreeing). They usually use RSE workers to pick, prune, thin and plant tomatoes.

    They would rather pay minimum wage albeit taking weeks/months (and would rather not use their land to potential by growing less)to find local workers than paying a few dollars more and getting workers asap. They told us they would not pay more than $28.9/hour per worker - so where is all the profit going? Into the owners pockets or the supermarkets of course.

    Although tomatoes in New Zealand are grown in glasshouses there are still on and off seasons and the biggest tomato grower had chosen not to plant an extra 11ha as they couldn't get cheap RSE workers in.

    Also, Tomatoes NZ has an arm around the Government/Immigration (RSE, SSE etc) as well as the rest of the horticultural sector, citrus, fruits, veggies etc. They are the top of the 'Horticultural Hierachy' Ladder

    • +1

      And why couldn't they get cheap RSE workers, who were willing and able and wanting to come? Well, we all know the answer to that. 😢

      • The thing is not all growers in horticultre can get RSE workers as they have to be able to 1) Provide them accomodation and 2) Supervise them making sure they don't run away and remain in the country i.e living with their other family members who are residents/citizens of NZ

    • If these places paid a higher hourly rate, more people would do the work.

  • +2

    Living in NZ sucks.

  • +1

    PnS were selling avocados for 5 for $5 or 4 for $5. But now they are $3 each, and noone is buying them ,so they are rotting on the shelf. Such a lot of food waste. I would love to see someone film inside supermarket bins to see all the wasted produce they throw away. In the UK where dood is a lot cheaper , they gradually discount things as they get older, but not so much in NZ, because there is a lack of competition and people will still buy it.

  • +5

    I left Sydney 4 years ago (high paying job, cheap rent, great perks) to return to NZ because I genuinely believed that bringing kids up in NZ was a better option for them. Now I'm sadly forced to concede I was probably wrong.

    Don't get me wrong, I have a good job here too. I own a home, I can make ends meet comfortably. But crap like this makes me mad. I'm fairly centrist, but I think ensuring plentiful, affordable, healthy food should be as important to politicians as health or education, because it affects both.

    Another rant which I considered saving for another forum post: in the 4 years since we left, I was blown away to see the progress in development and infrastructure in Sydney. While we whinge about the millions of road cones and ED wait times that sometimes exceed 24 miserable hours, Sydney (indeed all Australia) actually get on and do stuff:

    • Massive infrastructure projects just get done: NorthConnex and the Sydney Metro are probably two of the biggest, with accompanying mega redevelopment around them like Castle Towers. It makes Transmission Gully start to look like a country lane and the Auckland CRL is just a sick joke. NZ simply can't seem to build anything on time or under budget any more, and when big projects are completed they start falling apart within months.

    • AU are constantly building and renovating hospitals - I think 3 or 4 new billion-dollar hospitals have been completed since I left in Sydney alone. When was our last NEW hospital built? Correct me if I'm wrong, but Whangarei is a rebuild/replacement and New Dunedin has been going on for years with delays and budget blowouts. No, Australia's health system isn't perfect (I've used it), but it's a damn sight better than what's left of our imploding system.

    You can't blame Covid, you can't blame natural disasters (NSW has had massive floods recently as well, and get devastating bushfires every few years). Aussies just knuckle down and get stuff done. I blame our politicians, but I don't see anyone in politics right now - left or right - who looks like they can turn things around.

    Sucks indeed.

    • +3

      Australia do get a lot of their income and wealth from mining. The top stocks are mining ones. NZ doesn't have this advantage. I am also centralist. But I do think we are self sabotaging ourselves with some of our policies that are making it tougher and tougher to run businesses. Our roading and maintenance in NZ is a complete joke and I heard that often half the money can go on health and safety and traffic management eg cones. If you give over the the Wairarapa, the state highway 2 has been reduced to 80 due to the road not being safe at 100, and they can't afford to install median barriers. Now the road between Casterton and Masterton they have decided to install roundabouts in the middle of the state highway. That is the cheapest option, even cheaper than traffic lights. The expensive option is overpasses and merge lanes, like they have done on SH2 in the Hutt. But even worse, it has been going on for months and months and the road is currently a pot holed dirt road. I am waiting for an accident to occur.

      • +3

        "Australia do get a lot of their income and wealth from mining."

        Genuine question - does NZ have reserves of minerals, coal and gas (and oil) that we could be mining for an income but choose not to? I suspect we do but in pursuit of the "clean green NZ" image our collective psyche, led by our politicians, has decided to leave the stuff in the ground.

        How's everyone feel that going at the moment? I know I'd sooner have decent infrastructure, higher incomes, lower prices and lower public debt than a clean image. The UK would still buy our lamb as long as it's edible and cheap and China manages to export $trillions every year despite it's environmental image.

        • Yes we do have reserves

          Interestingly Noway exports US$200b of oil/gas a year, but 80% of new car sales there are full electric.

        • New Zealand has little mineral or oil wealth. We're not getting rich by extracting either.

          We also have pretty poor soil conditions for produce. Hence the sheep and cows.

          • @LupinS: The the CO2 from animals possibly has more perceived negative effect on the environment, then mining. My understanding is that NZs coal is good for steel, and we need steel for productivity and building new buildings and bridges and infrastructure etc. Even for building public transport So IMO NZ is just shooting itself in the foot.

    • Why do you think it's better to bring up kids in NZ than in AUS ?

      • +1

        Correction: did. I'm not sure I still feel that way. There are good and bad things on both sides of the Tasman and I feel that the balance is tipping back in their favour. Fruit and veg prices are the tip of the iceberg.

        Not sure if I can put my finger on what it was exactly that made me feel that way, but here's a broad brush (and apologies, grossly generalised) attempt:

        I guess I felt and still feel (albeit to a lesser degree these days) kids growing up in NZ tended to be more tolerant and caring, less self centred, more outgoing and more willing to help others. More willing to work hard, make do with what they have, and want to improve the lives of others.

        Now I'm balancing that with a lack of opportunities, dilapidated/insufficient or non-existent infrastructure, inflation that's out of control, a government that is spending like there's no tomorrow and delivering jack squat. They're more concerned with social crusades and short term social justice than long term social reform. And the other side is not much better. I could go on.

        While it's anecdotal for me, my wife (who moved to Oz in her teenage years) had first-hand experience growing up in both countries and feels exactly the same as I do. We're pretty firmly planted here now, so it would be a difficult move, but if the pain of staying overcomes the pain of leaving, it might just happen.

  • +1

    Those are the standard prices above and supermarket prices - green grocer type places are even better. The place across from us here in the Queensland - offers $10 deals - every week which are outrageously good and I live in a touristy area - I often take photos and send them to my family and friends back in NZ (mainly just to annoy them)

    Recent deals that stood out - 18 punnets of Strawberries. 36 Packets of Raspberries or Blueberries (or a mix) 10KG! of Green Beans, 25+ Mango's, A box ( I would guess 30-40+) nectarines, a bunch of tomatos - All $10aud per box, all good as the day they were picked - so not the rubbish either. Here a pic of what I got the other day for $23 - the avocados were a little expensive at $1.50 each -

    I lived in NZ most of my life (now split my time) and have never seen anything like that at home.

    There are somethings which are more in AU than NZ (Car Rego for example) but fresh food is definitely not one of them.

    • Are they mangoes in the photo? Did you win lotto? Your post makes me weep. I don't recall seeing them this year for less that 2 for $5 and they were hard, green and almost indigestible even when left to ripen.

      Another example. Checking on now a 125g punnet of Blueberries retails for between $5 and $6 today. Again, this year I don't recall seeing them below $2.99 a punnet yet our friends with blueberry bushes have had a bumper crop.

      Even frozen fruit prices are skyrocketing with secretive price increases as per my post re Fruzio in the forums.

      It just doesn't add up :(

      • Joe's here in Dunedin had mangos for $1.99 over the weekend, I didn't buy any but it was highlighted on a 'best produce prices' page I follow.

      • They sure are or should I say were Mango's and they were delicious. As you say I dont get it either, I know there this argument around they can export stuff and make more money - but this doesnt make sense to me , not only do you have the cost of doing so, but overseas as your seeing, stuff is a lot cheaper so they seemingly have to compete with that.

        There is also a lot of protectionism in the name of biosecurity going on where stuff cant be imported. But overall there definitely is something off in the whole structure of the market and NZ is worse off for it.

  • Sadly, I think the food prices are probably going to stay high for a while, they might not even get back to anywhere near the pre-covid prices. It's just like during GFC, the oil producing nations realised people are willing to pay a higher price for fuel, they then control the production to make sure the prices remain at a certain level the people are willing to pay. Food growers are doing the same thing now. The only way is to stop buying those you think are too expensive. We have stopped buying things like some fruits, kumara ($10.99 a kg? used to be $0.99), eggs (replaces with chia eggs for baking), etc. We only had 1/3 the number of watermelons we have had in the past summers.

  • We were in the Sunshine Coast a few weeks ago and I was shocked at the price of apples. Australian Pink Lady apples were $10.99/kg, I've never seen any apples over $6/kg here, and our local is a 4 Square. Other apples were $4 or $5/kg I think. Nothing seemed cheaper than here but this was at a Seasons IGA, there was a Coles close and and Aldi about 5 minutes drive away but we didn't have a look at them.
    Those are all prices with no GST right? so fruit really should be cheaper in Australia. The prices seemed about the same to me, simply comparing the ticket price, I expected cheaper.

    That's good that you can get bananas for $3.29/kg, we go though a lot, $3.99 seems to be the standard price in Dunedin now. 4 Square had them on special for $3.49/kg last week.

    • Time and place I would guess. Also supermarket pricing is going to be higher than local ships. On average most Fruit and Vege cheaper, Bananas are the exception, which never seem to change or be cheap like they can be in NZ, I think because they grow their own and dont import them.

      • Lower grade fruits and veggies (such as a little bruising) are sold to local shops a lot cheaper. Premium grade are sold to supermarkets. Not all growers are able to export their premium fruits/veggies one example of this is NZ Eggplants. Also supermarkets in NZ require growers to be NZGAP (Good Agricultural Practice) that requires registration, vetting, audit and certification. Though auditing and vetting and registration is annual renewal.

        It is a complete piece of BS though as they say they are benchmarked to Global G.A.P (Good Agricultural Practice) but in reality it's really not. There are only two auditing companies for NZ G.A.P and one of them (Asure Quality) has been yellow carded by Global G.A.P which means they've done some sketchy sh*t and has had sanctions imposed on them

    • I like the prices of watermelons over the ditch. A buck each when there is too much stock?

      • +2

        It makes me laugh (cry?) when our local supermarket sells watermelons lately and they have to state in massive writing "price is per kg - NOT EACH". Clearly I'm not the only one who thinks $6/$7 per kg for a watermelon is expensive!

        I remember maybe 7/8 years ago at an asian grocer in Orewa right next to New World being able to buy 2 watermelons for $1 (50c each!) throughout the summer. Yes it was a bargain but no way could costs have risen so much to justify supermarkets charging $14 each today.

  • +1

    A bit related. Just noticed PAMS Standard UHT Milk is now $2.39 at PAK'nSAVE (still has Everyday Low sticker), instead of $1.89 ($1.69 during specials). That's 26.5% price increase.

    • They can hike because they can, as no real competition. This causes inflation to rise, and interest rates to rise as well Then rents rise and people need wages to rise, and we end up with a price wage spiral. Until the public actually punishes supermarkets by perhaps planned boycotts, or refusing to pay the prices then they won't do anything. But people need to eat, and if everyone boycotted one brand, the other brand would just run out of supply. It is far less competitive than the petrol market.

  • Just came back from Sydney for a short trip. Eating out seems to be cheaper than in NZ. Plus, there is a plethora of options. Have also heard of a night market in the Lakemba area where they have food stalls until 5am in the morning!

    Not a fan of their road tolls though, but I guess it balances out with cheaper fuel that they get over there.

    We haven't progressed at all in the last half-decade or so, or dare I say, we have regressed. Healthcare and education here are horrendously underfunded. And just to be clear, I am (or rather was) pretty left-leaning.

    I share the same feeling as you, OP. It sucks.

  • Yup told my brother to move there mi year last year, and he's been enjoying it, apart from like vehicles being more expensive, and shitty internet most places (our pre gigabit fiber days), overall earning is higher and general products and foods a lot lower.
    There's a lot more stores and discounts that can be taken advantage of in Aus too, Mobile plans are way cheaper,

    Not only that, now I've been seeing more and more b & c tier fruit and veges in our NZ supermarkets with the high prices.

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