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Food Prices Rise 0.3 Per Cent

Food Price Index: May 2001

Food prices rose 0.3 per cent in May 2001, with higher dairy and meat prices being offset by lower vegetable prices, according to Statistics New Zealand. Food prices are now 6.2 per cent higher than in May 2000 and have risen in 10 of the last 12 months.

The annual increase of 6.2 per cent is the highest annual rise since June 1990, when food prices rose 10.0 per cent and were influenced by an increase in GST in July 1989. In the year to May 2001, increases were recorded for all the main component groups of the Food Price Index. Grocery food prices are 4.0 per cent higher than in May 2000, and this is the highest annual rise since an increase of 5.1 per cent in the year to October 1996. Meat, fish and poultry prices increased 11.2 per cent in the year to May 2001, and fruit and vegetable prices rose 12.9 per cent over the year.

>From April to May 2001, the most significant upward contribution to the rise in food prices came from a 1.6 per cent increase in grocery food, soft drinks and confectionery prices. One-third of this increase was caused by a 5.6 per cent rise in milk prices. Prices for many other dairy products, including cheese, butter and cream, also rose in May 2001.

Meat, fish and poultry prices rose 1.8 per cent in May 2001. The most significant contribution came from increased prices for smallgoods and prepared meats, which rose by 4.6 per cent. Lamb prices rose by 4.8 per cent, and beef and veal prices rose by 1.2 per cent.

Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices increased by 0.7 per cent in May 2001, after rising 0.2 per cent in April. The May 2001 rise is the largest since an equivalent increase in July 2000. A large number of ready-to-eat food items recorded price increases.

Fruit and vegetable prices fell by 6.8 per cent in May 2001, following a rise of 0.6 per cent in April. Fresh vegetables, which fell by 14.6 per cent, made a significant downward contribution to the Food Price Index movement in May 2001. Tomato prices fell 30.3 per cent, after adjusting for normal seasonal change, and cauliflower, lettuce, capsicum and broccoli all recorded falls in excess of 20 per cent. If fresh fruit and vegetable prices had been excluded, the Food Price Index would have risen 1.4 per cent in May 2001.

Brian Pink GOVERNMENT STATISTICIAN

END


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