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Jit T

Remember Virginia Bottomley? Or should I say "I'm an evil tory bigot." TS Eliot of course was the most famous person whose name was an anagram of "toilets."

On another matter of tangential financial interest: at our local supermarket last week, I bought 6 organic NZ braeburn apples for £1.24. Question: how is this possible. Why are they so cheap? Why is my supermarket bereft of UK apples?

Call me confused.


Russell Hutchinson

That does look like a good price - I just did the sums, at current exchange rates you've paid about $NZ2.97. I just checked an online supermarket (www.woolworths.co.nz) and a bag of organic Braeburn would be $3.79 kiwi. However, with apples it all about season and bulk. At certain times we might pay half that amount. At vege shops the prices would be lower too. Maybe we're asking the question the wrong way around - why are apples so expensive in the UK?

Jit T

But they have to be shipped 12000 miles... I agree the problem with UK apples is that they can't compete on price. But it is september and they are falling off the trees at the moment. Possibly minimum wage is to blame (I think this is currently £5.50 per hour). I know a lot of Kent orchards have been grubbed out to grow cereals - and no-one ever puts an orchard back, for obvious reasons...

But hold the press - you have Woolworths? Is that related to the Woolworths that died here last year?

Russell Hutchinson

I reckon it costs more to drive apples up from Tauranga to Auckland than it costs to send them to the UK. But when landed the costs will rise again. On second thoughts, the key cost driver may be land prices, and I bet Kent, even for orchard land, is a lot pricier than 99% of NZ farmland. But is this a problem? Eat NZ apples, buy Kenyan coffee, and provided it didn't FLY there will still be less carbon involved than anything grown in the EU, which seems to require a state subsidised Range Rover for the farmer ;-)

Woollies here is very different to Woolworths over there. Here it's an Aussie supermarket chain - not a St Michael branded pair of slacks in sight!

Jit T

I am going to have to get up-to-date with the subsidy system. I used to know it well, but that was ten years ago... I have always been of the opinion that subsidies are wrong, so live in hope that they have been somewhat curtailed in the intervening period.

One of the ironic consequences of EU enlargement was the ploughing up of vast tracts of the few remaining pristine meadows in the former Soviet countries. Why? Because with subsidies, cultivating these meadows... full of scarce butterflies... suddenly became cost-effective.

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