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Food Prices Rise 1.5 Percent

Food Price Index: January 2002

Food prices rose 1.5 percent in January 2002, according to latest figures from Statistics New Zealand. The increase in January was mainly due to a large rise in fresh vegetable prices as a result of difficult growing conditions in many parts of the country.

Significantly lesser upward contributions came from increases for grocery food items, restaurant meals, and higher meat, fish and poultry prices. Although overall meat prices increased in January 2002, beef prices fell 1.3 percent after falling 1.0 percent in December 2001.

Fruit and vegetable prices rose by 8.1 percent in January 2002, making the largest contibution to the rise in overall food prices. This is the first rise in fruit and vegetable prices for four months. After adjusting for normal seasonal change, significant increases were recorded for tomatoes (up 36.7 percent), cauliflower (up 110.5 percent), lettuces (up 25.2 percent) and broccoli (up 64.3 percent).

Grocery food prices also rose in January (up 0.7 percent) and were driven by rises of 11.6 percent for boxed chocolates (as they moved off Christmas specials), 6.4 percent for sweets and 8.7 percent for coffee. These rises were partially offset by lower prices for frozen or chilled meat pies (down 12.9 percent).

Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices rose by 0.5 percent in January. This follows increases of 0.2 percent in December and 0.7 percent in November 2001.

Meat, fish and poultry prices also rose in January (up 0.2 percent) and were driven by rises of 1.2 percent in poultry and 0.9 percent in smallgoods prices. The largest contribution from meat prices to the overall Food Price Index movement in January 2002 came from a 1.3 percent fall in beef prices. This follows a fall of 1.0 percent in beef prices in December 2001.

From January 2001 to January 2002, food prices rose 5.6 percent. This follows annual increases of 5.8 percent in the year to December 2001 and 6.7 percent in the year to November 2001. Grocery food, soft drinks and confectionery prices rose 5.3 percent from January 2001 to January 2002 and over the same period, meat, fish and poultry prices rose by 12.2 percent. Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices rose by 4.1 percent in the year to January 2002 while fruit and vegetable prices were 1.1 percent higher.

Brian Pink
Government Statistician

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