Banana shortage may be short-lived

Relief is in sight for New Zealand's banana-short shops.
ANDREW QUILTY/AFR

Relief is in sight for New Zealand's banana-short shops.

New Zealand is facing a possible banana shortage but probably not for long.

The country's two major supermarket chains, Foodstuffs and Progressive, say a ship from Ecuador carrying bananas broke down a couple of week sago and is expected to affect the banana supply.

"Stock levels should be back to normal the week after next," said Progressive, which owns Countdown and Fresh Choice.

"Our supply from the Philippines remains unaffected."

A spokeswoman for Foodstuffs, which owns the supermarkets New World and Pak'nSave, said: "We are working with our suppliers to ensure supply is managed until full supply resumes in a couple of weeks."

The last time New Zealand had a banana shortage was March last year when bad weather affected growing conditions in the Philippines.

According to 2013, the Philippines supplies about 70 per cent of New Zealand's bananas and Ecuador supplies the rest, save a few domestically grown, non-commercial crops in Northland.

It was also the nation's favourite fruit that year, with New Zealanders spending $143 million on bananas, $37m more than apples.

Leigh Catley, a spokesperson for Horticulture New Zealand, said domestic fruit growers would no doubt be hoping that consumers would turn their eyes to locally grown applies and citrus if they couldn't buy bananas.

In Wellington, Ajay Jina, managing director of Jina's World of Fresh Produce, said he did not expect to have a problem with banana shortages.

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"We have a different supply chain so we're pretty much unaffected."

Moreover, they were not the most popular fruit in his store.

"It depends on the time of the year. In the summer time, bananas fall way down the list, certainly when all the summer fruit's around, and even this time of the year when we have New Zealand easy-peel mandarins and awesome New Zealand apples.

"In supermarkets, it's a bit different, because people tend to see a banana as a grocery item as opposed to a fruit...But in our shop because we only sell fruit and vegetables, they have such great variety to choose from."

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