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Food Prices Rise In March

Food Prices Rise in March Food prices rose 0.4 percent in March 2002, according to latest figures from Statistics New Zealand. Prices were driven by higher grocery food and poultry prices. These increases were partly offset by a fall in fresh vegetable prices.

Grocery food, soft drinks and confectionery prices rose by 1.3 percent in March 2002, making the most significant contribution to the overall increase in food prices. The increase in grocery food items in March was driven by higher prices for boxed chocolates (up 11.8 percent), predominantly due to items moving off Valentine's Day specials recorded in February. Other significant increases were recorded for biscuits (up 4.3 percent) and soft drinks (up 1.7 percent).

Meat, fish and poultry prices recorded a rise of 0.9 percent in March, following a fall of 0.2 percent in February 2002. Meat, fish and poultry prices have shown a pattern of alternating increases and decreases for the past five months, following a period of seven consecutive monthly increases. The increase in March was mainly due to higher poultry prices, which rose by 4.1 percent. Other significant increases were recorded for smallgoods and prepared meats (up 1.5 percent) and lamb (up 1.8 percent).

Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices made a small upward contribution to the overall increase in food prices in March, recording an increase of 0.3 percent. This follows increases of 0.4 percent in February and 0.5 percent in January 2002.

Fruit and vegetable prices fell by 2.4 percent in March, driven by a decrease of 5.6 percent in fresh vegetable prices. After adjusting for normal seasonal change, significant decreases were recorded for lettuces (down 42.9 percent), oranges (down 5.9 percent) and onions (down 8.3 percent). Tomatoes recorded the most significant increase in March, with a rise of 12.5 percent.

>From March 2001 to March 2002, food prices rose 5.5 percent. Grocery food, soft drinks and confectionery prices increased 6.0 percent in the year to March 2002, and meat, fish and poultry prices rose 12.5 percent over the same period. Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices rose 4.5 percent from March 2001 to March 2002, while fruit and vegetable prices decreased by 2.9 percent.

Brian Pink Government Statistician

END

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