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Food Prices Rise 0.7 Per Cent

Food Price Index: December 2000

Food prices rose 0.7 per cent between November and December 2000 and are 4.8 per cent higher than in December 1999, according to Statistics New Zealand. The rate of annual increase has not been this high since August 1990 when a 4.9 per cent annual movement was recorded.

Since May 2000, increases in the Food Price Index have been driven by increases in meat prices and to a lesser extent by an upward trend in fruit and vegetable prices. This is in contrast to the previous 12 months when the movements in the Food Price Index were similar to those for grocery food prices.

Prices for tomatoes, potatoes, bread and bread rolls, and fresh and frozen poultry were the main upward item contributors to the December Food Price Index.

Fruit and vegetable prices (after removing normal seasonal change) rose by 2.3 per cent in December 2000, with price increases for fresh produce making the greatest contribution to this movement. Fresh fruit prices rose by 1.6 per cent in December and fresh vegetable prices increased by 4.8 per cent. Fruit and vegetable prices are quite volatile from month to month. Seasonally adjusted prices for tomatoes made the most significant upward item contribution in the December 2000 month. Other significant price increases this month came from new season potatoes and peaches. Notable decreases came from broccoli and strawberries.

Meat, fish and poultry prices recorded an increase of 1.6 per cent in December 2000 after recording the same movement in November. Price rises for fresh and frozen poultry made the largest contribution to the December increase. Poultry prices rose 5.9 per cent in the December month and are 4.3 per cent higher than a year ago. The annual increase this month follows 15 consecutive annual decreases in poultry prices from September 1999. Beef and veal prices fell 0.4 per cent in December.

Higher prices for bread and bread rolls pushed grocery food prices up 0.2 per cent in December following an increase of 0.5 per cent in November. The proportion of grocery items going 'on special' in December was significantly higher than the proportion which came 'off special', dampening the overall rise. Other price increases this month were recorded for sweets, fruit juice and potato crisps. Notable decreases this month came from frozen or chilled meat pies and soft drinks. Many of these grocery food items move considerably from month to month due to items going on and off special.

Fruit and vegetable prices are 16.3 per cent higher in December 2000 than in December 1999. Over the same period, meat, fish and poultry prices rose 9.0 per cent, grocery food prices rose 1.4 per cent and restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices rose 3.3 per cent.

Ian Ewing DEPUTY GOVERNMENT STATISTICIAN

END


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