Former Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says labour shortages and an avalanche of government-sponsored regulations are crippling the sector.
He says supermarkets are a core part of our business.
"Without the supermarket, we don't sell," he told Rural News.
"It's not about saying you've done bad or you've done good, it's about how we can change the dynamics for the future," he says.</p.
Chapman says the recent Commerce Commission review into supermarkets provides an opportunity where the whole supply chain - retailers, distributors and growers - all have a fair share.
"We are looking for a positive outcome where consumers and growers can get the deal they deserve," he says.
Chapman supports a code of conduct for fresh produce and believes there's wide support for a code within the sector.
The Commerce Commission has released its report after reviewing competition in the $22 billion a year grocery industry. It found Foodstuffs and Woolworths duopoly is making super-profits - in excess of 20% return on their capital - at the expense of both food suppliers and customers.
The Government is inviting submissions from stakeholders on the commission’s report before deciding how it will try to improve competition.
Opening the HortNZ Conference in Hamilton, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor assured fruit and vegetable growers that the Government will uphold their interests.
He pointed out that sponsorship doesn’t give supermarkets right to suppression.
“We have healthy comp across economy in all areas of supply and demand ad its Commerce Commission’s role to ensure that”.
Countdown was a platinum sponsor of conference.
Foodstuffs and Woolworths have cornered 90% of the grocery market through owning all of NZ's biggest supermarket brands – New World, Pak'nSave, Countdown, Four Square and Supervalue.