One of my favourite things about moving to a new country is going to the supermarket. It doesn’t sound exciting but when you walk up the candy aisle, you’ll get what I’m talking about. Coming from New Zealand I feel compelled to write and ask why I’m paying less for New Zealand produce in Oman.
I’ve lived in four countries. New Zealand is by far the most expensive place I’ve had the pleasure of living. I knew it wasn’t going to be cheap but the cost of meat and vege completely blew me away. Don’t get me wrong the food is delicious! The chicken? I don’t know how or why but its better than anything I have had anywhere else in the world. The food is so amazing it is exported all over the world and sold for a premium on the international market. Except its not.
I only buy New Zealand or Australian meat when I’m living overseas because its the best. No one wants to risk getting mad cow disease right? You would expect because the meat was killed, transported, shipped, customs, duties and taxes paid and all done to a very important and high international standard that I would be paying far more for New Zealand Premium Angus Beef Mince. No. In fact, the Premium Angus Beef Mince I ate tonight in Muscat, Oman was only $14.40 a kilo. I had a quick look on Countdown and they have a special today. Three packs of 350g for only $19.98. Aren’t you guys lucky? Killed and transported by road, in your own country but you still paid $5.30 more than what I paid. Some people might say well its only $5. For those that are struggling, that $5 could have fed another child. Well, maybe not in New Zealand but you get the idea.
This week I bought New Zealand Gala Apples for my children’s lunches. They cost $3.76 a kilo. In Oman! I’ll be honest the American ones were cheaper but my allegiance lies with you guys. While I was enjoying the cheaper prices and great quality of the produce I couldn’t help but think about all the families in New Zealand struggling to make ends meet. No parent wants their children to be unhealthy. But when they are paying the same price and more for fresh produce that was grown in their own backyard they are being backed into a corner and forced to make a choice between something healthy that won’t go as far or the cheaper unhealthier option. How is this even happening?
I decided to do a bit of research and I found several articles that try to justify why the price of fresh produce is so exorbitant. They range from ‘we have less people than countries like Australia’ to ‘international exports inflate the cost of domestic food prices.’ New Zealand exports a lot of produce but has an environment of artificial scarcity resulted in inflated costs on domestic produce? I don’t know the answer to this but I’m going to complain on your behalf.
During my two years in New Zealand I lived in Northland. Most of you will know it is one of the most socially deprived areas in the country. Salaries are low, cost of renting or buying a house is ridiculous and unemployment rates are high. Children go to school without food or piles of junk food. Corner stores prey on the economically disadvantaged with school lunch pack made of sugar and fat. I’ve seen the shopping carts filled with loaf, upon loaf of white bread, two minute noodles and beef flavoured sausages. I recently read and article that said by the year 2038 20 million New Zealanders will be obese. Why are people shocked by this? The food from New Zealand is cheaper on the other side of the world where people earn more money and the cost of living is much lower of course you are going to have a nation of obese people when food security is low.
I’ve lived in South East Asia where people that live on $10 a day eat two-minute noodles, loaves of white bread and drink fizzy every day. New Zealand is a first world country. I shouldn’t be paying less for your produce in the Middle East. The government can sink millions of dollars into obesity prevention programs but what are they going to achieve? They need to address the cost of food and creating food security for the people of New Zealand.