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Small Rise in Food Prices

Food prices in May 2000 were 0.1 per cent higher than in April 2000, according to latest figures from Statistics New Zealand. The meat, fish and poultry subgroup of the Food Price Index made the most significant contribution to the increase. The fruit and vegetables subgroup fell significantly in May which helped keep the overall Food Price Index increase low.

On an annual basis, food prices in May 2000 were 0.2 per cent lower than in May 1999. Food prices are now at the same levels as they were in August and September 1998 and also in July 1999.

Meat, fish and poultry prices rose by 1.6 per cent from April to May 2000, contributing the most significant increase to the Food Price Index. Rises were recorded for lamb, beef and frozen chicken. Meat, fish and poultry prices were 4.8 per cent higher in May 2000 than in May 1999.

In May, the proportion of grocery food, soft drinks and confectionery items going 'on special' was very similar to the proportion coming 'off special'. This followed three successive months when the proportions going 'on special' exceeded those coming 'off special'. Grocery food prices rose by 0.2 per cent in May 2000 and are 0.3 per cent higher than in May 1999.

Fruit and vegetable prices made a large downward contribution to overall food prices in May and were 2.4 per cent lower than in April. The largest downward contribution to the index came from a seasonally adjusted price fall for tomatoes, after making the most significant upward contribution to the April Food Price Index. Lesser falls were recorded for cucumber and mandarins. Significant upward contributions came from lettuces and potatoes. On an annual basis, fruit and vegetable prices are 11.0 per cent lower than in May 1999.

On a regional basis, food prices in the North Island increased 0.3 per cent, while in the South Island they fell by 0.5 per cent (caused by similar downward contributions in the South Island from both fruit and vegetable prices and grocery food prices). Overall, seven regional centres recorded price increases in May 2000. The largest rise was in Wellington where food prices rose by 1.5 per cent.

Ian Ewing

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