Why is fruit expensive in Australia/New Zealand?

I went to New Zealand and Australia in July. At the time, the NZ dollar was .8 USD. It is now about .70 USD. The Australian dollar was .88, now about .84.

I recall seeing Fuji apples for around $6NZD/k.g. in NZ. Returning to Southern California, my local Vons had NZ grown Fujis for $1USD/lb. This is twice the cost of the item in the place where they grow it.

My memory is that I saw bananas in Sydney for $13 AUD / kg. This is equivalent to $5 USD/lb. I commonly see banana prices in So. Cal of .70 - .40 / lb. The Australian price is ten times this.

Do they not grow bananas in Queensland? I think most US bananas do not come from the warm parts of the US; instead from Central America. Sydney might be a little further from the Phillipines and Indonesia than the US is from Costa Rica, but ten times the cost?

Virtually every banana in the US comes from Equador. And we get quite a lot of off-season produce from elsewhere in South America.
There is stil lots and lots of agricultural production in the US. IIRC, we are still a net exporter of produce. Austrialia and New Zealand are net importers of produce.
That doesn’t really answer the question, but it’s all I’ve got. Oh, and pinapples are more expensive in Hawaii than the mainland, so it’s not an issue exclusive to that area…

The biggest reason is because it’s hard to impossible to import fruit into Australia, because of quarantine. So you aren’t going to get cheap bananas from Central America in the shops, in case those bananas bring diseases with them that get into the local bananas.

The second reason is that, while Australia is big, it only has limited areas where fruit can be grown, partly because of limited water.

The particular reason why bananas were so expensive is that most of the banana growing areas in Australia were wiped out by a single cyclone. If you saw them at $13 / kg, the prices were probably coming down from their peak price after the storm.

Supply and Demand.

Selling Fuji Apples to Californians earns more than selling them to NZers, so most go overseas. Low local supply pushes up local prices.

Currently dairy products are getting really expensive in NZ (my MIL has been complaining). The drought in Oz has killed off their dairy production. So they pay extra money for NZ milk, which drives up the local prices.


Very true.

There’s also a huge variation between suppliers. From my local supermarket, I can buy Fuji apples for $4.99 a kg. If I drive a couple of kilometres, I can pick up a 10kg bag at the orchard for $3.99.

Eh? Apples cost more in New Zealand, in raw currency terms, according to the OP. So wouldn’t NZ apple growers make more profit selling their produce domestically?

But the prices in NZ are so high because almost all of the produce has been exported to the US.

If all of the produce was brought back to NZ (if that was even possible with the trade agreement), then yes there would be a small period where some suppliers would get a lot of money, but then a flood on the market would drive the price down again to the point where it would once more become more profitable to send all of the produce back over to the US again.

Or more likely, it would drive prices down to an equilibrium where the profit was the same whether you sold the goods at home or exported them. Which doesn’t seem to be the situation that the OP describes, with out-of-whack prices.

There have been some really hard seasons recently and prices are pretty volatile for fruit.


Big wipeout on apples recently.

Prices may have also been agreed upon at different times for overseas vs local produce so comparisons are difficult. They may have to meet those commitments, making prices skyrocket for any produce left over to sell locally, which are often sold as an auction process.

Banana prices of 13/kg are definitely from when we had the wipeout, before it happened, average prices were about $3/kg.


Banana prices have come down now - I bought some yesterday at the greengrocer’s for $2.99 kg (a kilogram is 2.2 pounds). They shot up in price when the banana growers in Queensland were wiped out, but they are obviously recovering.
It’s definitely supply and demand for the other produce though - our seafood is ridiculously expensive because a lot of it is shipped to Asia as it gets top dollar there.

Market size is one answer, the other is foreign currency. Getting new money from outside into the country is better than shifting around the existing currency internally.


I agree with maggenpye – and Layla01’s point about stuff being exported affecting local prices does indeed hold true as well. Then again, here in NZ the supply of some commodities has been reduced, according to this page from MAF therefore the price may well be driven upward.

Petrol prices are hitting us too - a relatively sparse population spread over a geographic area over a quarter million square K’s. Transport is a large proportion of grocery prices.

Too true. nods

Still - lovely weather, nice scenery. shrugs Not planning on moving any time soon.

Daylight saving time’s just around the corner … summer’s coming. Anyone want nice fruit around here, there’s stalls selling the stuff up and down the highways come summer (those who haven’t given up on the honesty box concept yet, or have a family member to sit there and guard the money). Plenty of ways to get fruit for a good price if you want.

The OP came here in July, middle of our winter. Pricey time, that.

The stores in Portage are currently full of new shipments of apples from New Zealand. The Wisconsin apples are all ripe or almost ripe now, so why are they importing these old picked-unripe apples from New Zealand. I’m glad we get them when ours have been in storage forever, but they are currently inferior to the Wisconsin crop. Wisconsin has high fruit prices too. I’ll bet a lot higher than California.

As others have pointed out, banana prices were high due to cyclone destruction of growing areas, and have now returned to normal.

Many parts of Australia are experiencing long-term drought, this is affecting production figures, and grocery prices are continuing to rise. The area where I was born is now in its 12th year of drought.

Yeah, pulling out the last of the silverbeet and Broccoli this weekend, putting in the spuds and tomatoes. Too hot in my garden for lettuces.

Will not pay $8.99kg for tomatoes - I just cannot bring myself to do that.

The peach tree’s in blossom, the citrus is ready on the trees. Neighbour’s plums and feijoas will be dropping on my side of the fence. Life is looking very yummy for the next few months.