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Crunch time for NZ's small fruit and vegetable growers during lockdown

It's estimated up to a third of fruit and vegetables being grown around the country have no way of being sold under lockdown. 

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It’s estimated up to a third of fruit and vegetables grown have no way of being sold under the nationwide coronavirus lockdown. Source: 1 NEWS

With their usual outlets closed, it's an issue facing smaller growers who don't have supermarket contracts.

The month without takeaway or a stroll around the farmers' market has meant a huge loss of income for smaller growers.

Tomato grower Lu Zheng relies on the extra he earns from selling direct.

"If you go to the farmers' market you get a retail price, not a wholesale price, that's the difference," he told 1 NEWS.

Horticulture New Zealand says around 20 to 30 per cent of fruit and vegetable crops have no way to get to customers during the Level 4 lockdown.

The plants are still growing, but with farmers' markets are closed that's a problem for growers unless they've managed to move some of their produce online.

Mr Lu is glad he managed to diversify before the lockdown, after signing up a few years ago to supply an online grocery service.

It's one of hundreds of websites that were already trading and have now become essential.

"We're bridging the gap between the small scale producers and you at home. It's like bringing a farmers' market to you at home," Ooooby's Brad Meiring says.

Mr Lu's tomatoes and lots more come here, an MPI approved packhouse that makes up boxes for delivery around Auckland.

There's another in Christchurch.

"We have a much shorter supply chain, it's basically farmer to us to you at home," Mr Meiring says.

In these times that's lowering the risk of bursting someone's bubble and increasing the chance that growers can survive the lockdown.