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Cheaper Fresh Produce Contributes to Prices Drop

Food Price Index: March 2001

Cheaper Fresh Produce Contributes to Drop in Food Prices

Food prices were 0.5 per cent lower in March 2001 than in February 2001, according to Statistics New Zealand. The last time food prices fell was in April 2000, when a decrease of 0.5 per cent was also recorded. Food prices have risen by 5.1 per cent in the last 12 months, following an 18-month period of relative stability.

Fruit and vegetable prices fell by 3.9 per cent from February to March 2001, after adjusting for normal seasonal change, and made the largest contribution to the drop in overall food prices. A number of relatively volatile items recorded significant price changes. The most significant item contribution to the downward movement in March came from seasonally adjusted prices of tomatoes, which fell by 30.0 per cent. Apple and nectarine prices also dropped by more than 30.0 per cent, and were the second and third largest contributors, respectively, to the fall in prices for fresh fruit and vegetables.

Meat, fish and poultry (down 0.3 per cent) grocery foods (up 0.2 per cent) and restaurant meal prices (up 0.2 per cent) made minor contributions to the overall Food Price Index movement in March 2001.

The items that made the largest upward contributions to the March 2001 Food Price Index were lettuces (up 44.8 per cent) and potato crisps (up 7.2 per cent).

On a regional basis, food prices in the South Island fell by 1.4 per cent from February 2001 to March 2001, while in the North Island they fell by 0.2 per cent. Food prices in 12 of the 15 regional pricing centres fell in March 2001. The most significant fall occurred in Christchurch where food prices fell 2.3 per cent, mainly due to a large downward contribution from fruit and vegetable prices. Fruit and vegetable prices in the South Island fell by 9.0 per cent in March, while in the North Island they fell by 2.2 per cent.

Ian Ewing DEPUTY GOVERNMENT STATISTICIAN END

There is a companion Hot Off The Press information release published - Food Price Index - March 2001

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