Food distributors in South Canterbury say there are alternative options that can save the consumer money.
Growing fruit and vegetables has become a cost-effective trend in parts of South Canterbury, particularly in Geraldine, which has adopted the Incredible Edibles initiative.
Incredible Edibles is a community garden project.
It allows residents or passers-by to help themselves to a small portion of the produce growing in a range of raised garden beds and pots throughout the town.
The concept had benefited people’s health and their bank balances, co-founder Rebecca Lees said.
Incredible Edibles was working well and had changed people’s attitudes towards gardening, with more people now growing their own vegetables at home.
She said just three runner bean seeds “will very easily” grow ample beans for a family.
“And there are plenty of families out there that can’t afford to buy beans.
“One of the positive benefits is you grow more than you would normally .. buy [at the supermarket].”
She said that as a result, people were getting more nutrients in their diet.
Bin Inn owner Shailesh Modi said there had been an increased interest in gluten-free and organic products.
“More and more people are turning to gluten-free and organic products because they are having health issues.
“We are seeing an increasing number of people with gluten intolerance.”
People were opting for bulk buying rather than spending on packaging, he said.
“With bulk buying they can choose how much they want.”
Nuts, dried fruits, cereals and grains had become popular choices, he said.
“Brew your alcohol has been growing, as people are finding it cheaper to make their own alcohol as opposed to buying it at the supermarket.”
Timaru fruit and vegetable shop Selwyn Street Produce owner Rick Haaima said he had noticed an increase in people shopping around for their food.
“That’s because of rising food prices – especially with carrots and apples.”
Food prices were always a topic of conversation among shoppers, he said.
“No matter what the price, people have something to say.”
Buying fruit and vegetables that were in season helped cut costs, he said.
“As we have local produce too, that keeps costs down.”