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Primary Products and Petrol Lift Wholesale Sales

Primary Products and Petrol Lift Wholesale Sales

Wholesale sales increased by 1.5 per cent in the March 2000 quarter according to figures released today by Statistics New Zealand. The trend in wholesaling sales activity has now been increasing since September of 1998.

Increases in the primary product food and petroleum industries provided for over 90 per cent of the March quarter growth. The primary food industry shows signs of a strong recovery following a fall in sales in 1998 and early 1999. The industry has benefited from a good growing season, favourable currency movements, and a pick-up in demand from some key markets. However sales have only recently surpassed the values achieved during 1997 and 1998 prior to the drought induced contraction in the sector. Strong beef and sheep meat prices and steady overseas demand for these products have influenced sales this quarter. Fruit exports also increased, while dairy exports remained steady.

A further rise in crude oil prices boosted petroleum sales again this quarter, with sales values now 38.9 per cent higher than a year ago. Although the recent upturn in economic activity does suggest some increase in volumes, the rise has been primarily price driven. While the increase in petroleum sales has boosted wholesale activity, it is not indicative of real economic growth. Producers Price Index (PPI) releases have drawn reference to the steady rise in input costs for businesses, while higher petrol prices for motorists lower the disposable income households have available to buy other products.

Ian Ewing

Deputy Government Statistician
END

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