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Food Prices Fall in December

Food Price Index: December 2001

Food prices fell 0.2 percent in December 2001, according to latest figures from Statistics New Zealand. The last time food prices fell was in March 2001, when a decrease of 0.5 percent was recorded. The decrease in December was mainly due to lower prices for fruit and vegetables and for meat, fish and poultry.

Fruit and vegetable prices fell by 1.8 percent in December 2001, making the largest contribution to the drop in overall food prices. Fruit and vegetable prices have now fallen for three consecutive months. After adjusting for normal seasonal change, significant decreases were recorded for potatoes (down 15.9 percent) and carrots (down 20.5 percent). Lettuces rose by 59.1 percent in December, making the most significant upward contribution to both fruit and vegetable prices and overall food prices.

Meat, fish and poultry prices also fell in December (down 0.3 percent) and were driven by falls of 3.5 percent in lamb prices and 1.0 percent in beef prices. These falls were partially offset by an increase of 1.4 percent in poultry prices. The December 2001 decrease is the first fall in meat, fish and poultry prices since March 2001.

Grocery food, soft drinks and confectionery prices rose 0.2 percent in December. Potato crisps made the most significant contribution to the increase this month, with a rise of 4.4 percent. Biscuit prices also recorded a significant increase, rising by 4.2 percent in December.

Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices rose by 0.2 percent in December. This follows increases of 0.7 percent in November and 0.3 percent in October 2001.

>From December 2000 to December 2001, food prices rose 5.8 percent. This is down from the larger annual increases of 6.7 percent in the year to November 2001 and 7.7 percent in the year to October 2001. Meat, fish and poultry prices are up 12.4 percent from December 2000 to December 2001 and grocery food, soft drinks and confectionery prices rose 6.2 percent over the same period. Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices rose by 4.0 percent in the year to December 2001. These annual increases were slightly offset by a fall in fruit and vegetable prices, which recorded a decrease of 1.3 percent in the year to December 2001.

Brian Pink
Government Statistician

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