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Report shows need to protect Pukekohe food hub

A lettuce costing $5.54 – 58 percent more than today – and a big economic hit to Auckland could be the case if the value of fruit and vegetable production in Pukekohe isn’t recognised, a report released at a function at Parliament finds.

Horticulture New Zealand commissioned Deloitte to report on New Zealand’s food story: The Pukekohe hub, detailing the significant contribution Pukekohe’s horticulture industry makes to the health and wealth of New Zealand, and in particular its largest city, Auckland.

“New Zealand’s soils are a precious resource, not just for our growers but for every Kiwi who likes to eat their greens. I support efforts to ensure we protect our elite, food-producing soils so our growers can continue to feed us with healthy, natural produce,” Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor says.

“This Government has shown a willingness to collaborate with horticulture, and this report is part of the evidence-base we will bring to the table as we work on finding the answers to the questions it poses. Deloitte has made six recommendations in the report which we agree with and will continue working on,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

“If decision-makers don’t have a clear view of the value of the Pukekohe food hub, we run the risk of an economic hit to Auckland of up to $1.1 billion in 25 years, with the loss of up to 4,500 fulltime jobs, less fruit and vegetables available, and prices up to 58 percent higher. During that time Auckland will also be hungrier, with population set to rise to 2.3 million.

“It is essential that we have a holistic view of our food supply chain to ensure informed decision-making around critical areas such as land use and water allocation. To meet environmental and health imperatives, as well as consumer expectations, it makes sense to protect growing hubs close to our main population centres. They not only provide food that contributes to the physical health of New Zealanders, but also jobs, and vibrant businesses and communities.

“Food and housing are competing for land and water. We need both, so now is a good time to be smart about long-term planning for food security and domestic supply. We will not always be able to source food from other countries – look at the extremely hot summer the northern part of the world is having and the impact it is having on food production because of drought,” Chapman says.

“The challenges to ensuring the Pukekohe hub remains a bulwark of New Zealand’s food supply are not small. We believe success requires central and local government to work together with the industry to best protect and enhance this natural asset, and sustainable business models,” Deloitte Partner and Agribusiness Lead Andrew Gibbs says.

“We hope our New Zealand Food Story report provides valuable insights into the health of a strategic growing region and furthers the conversation on the country’s need for an agreed food security plan.”

Source: Horticulture NZ

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