[15 August/Radio NZ]

Increased lettuce prices are possible according to the horticulture industry. A report predicted fresh fruit and vegetables could increase by 50 percent due to Auckland’s booming population and housing demands. It warned of increased produce costs, job losses, and a $1.1 billion impact on the economy. Hira Bhana and Co Grower, Bharat Bhana, said the region’s conditions could not be replicated once it was gone. His family had grown potatoes, onions and other vegetables for almost 60 years. Land near his farm that used to be used to growing produce was now occupied by housing. He added all land around the area was once farmland but the urban sprawl was growing closer. Pukekohe produces a large portion of Auckland’s produce. Losing the area to housing would cause problems as demand for produce was on the rise. He argued the government needed to step in to ensure the soils were conserved for future generations. Horticulture New Zealand CEO, Mike Chapman, said Pukekohe was at risk.