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Food Prices Increase in March

Food Price Index: March 2000

Food prices in March 2000 were 0.1 per cent higher than in February 2000 according to latest figures from Statistics New Zealand. Fruit and vegetable prices rose as did grocery food, restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food.

On an annual basis, food prices in March 2000 were 0.2 per cent lower than in March 1999.

Fruit and vegetable prices, the largest contributor to the overall increase, rose by 1.4 per cent in March 2000 but are 8.8 per cent lower than a year earlier. In March 2000, fresh vegetable prices rose 1.4 per cent, while fresh fruit increased by 1.2 per cent following two consecutive monthly increases of 0.2 per cent. The main contributors to the overall increase in fruit and vegetable prices were avocado, broccoli, citrus fruit and lettuce. Overall, fruit and vegetable prices in the North Island increased by 1.8 per cent in March 2000 and by 0.3 per cent in the South Island.

The next most significant upward contribution to the Food Price Index came from the restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food subgroup which increased 0.3 per cent in March 2000 compared to February 2000. This subgroup is now 1.9 per cent higher than in March 1999.

Grocery food prices increased by 0.1 per cent in March following a decrease of 0.5 per cent in February 2000. Boxed chocolates increased after Valentine's Day specials in February. Other items to record significant increases were packets of sweets and spaghetti. On an annual basis, grocery food prices remain unchanged in March 2000 from March 1999.

Price decreases for poultry and lamb contributed to a 1.3 per cent fall in the meat, fish and poultry subgroup in March 2000. This subgroup made a significant downward contribution to the overall Food Price Index movement for the March 2000 month. On an annual basis, the meat, fish and poultry subgroup is 3.9 per cent higher than in March 1999.

On a regional basis, nine of the 15 regional centres recorded increases in March 2000. The largest increase occurred in Napier-Hastings. Auckland recorded a fall of 0.1 per cent in March 2000, mainly as a result of lower prices in the meat, fish and poultry subgroup.

Ian Ewing

DEPUTY GOVERNMENT STATISTICIAN

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