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Food Prices Fall in March

Food Prices Fall in March

Food prices fell 0.4 percent in March 2003, according to latest figures released by Statistics New Zealand. Price decreases were recorded for meat, fish and poultry; and fruit and vegetables.

Partly offsetting these falls were higher prices for restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food; and grocery food.

Meat, fish and poultry prices recorded a fall of 2.1 percent in March 2003. The most significant downward contribution came from lower poultry prices (down 6.7 percent). Smaller downward contributions came from smallgoods and prepared meats (down 1.6 percent) and beef (down 1.4 percent). These were partly offset by higher prices for fish (up 1.1 percent).

Fruit and vegetable prices fell 2.6 percent in March 2003, driven by lower prices for fresh fruit (down 10.8 percent). After adjusting for normal seasonal change, fruit and vegetable items that made significant downward contributions included apples (down 22.7 percent), bananas (down 6.6 percent) and nectarines (down 25.0 percent). Tomatoes made the most significant upward contribution to fruit and vegetable prices in March 2003, increasing by 15.8 percent.

Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices rose 0.2 percent in March 2003, largely due to a 0.4 percent rise in ready-to-eat food prices. Restaurant meal prices showed no overall change.

Grocery food, soft drinks and confectionery prices rose 0.6 percent in March 2003.

The most significant upward contribution came from higher prices for sweets, crisps and nuts (up 5.3 percent). This was mainly driven by higher prices for boxed chocolates (up 20.4 percent) as prices moved off Valentine's Day specials. Less significant upward contributions came from canned meals (up 6.5 percent) and fruit juice (up 3.4 percent).

Food prices fell 0.3 percent from March 2002 to March 2003. This was driven by a 5.4 percent drop in meat, fish and poultry prices. Partly offsetting this fall were increases in restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices (up 2.4 percent), fruit and vegetable prices (up 1.2 percent), and grocery food prices (up 0.2 percent). This is the first drop in annual food prices since May 2000.

Brian Pink

Government Statistician

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