NZ food prices fall in October as cheaper veggies outweigh pricier lamb chops, sausages
By Margreet Dietz
Nov. 13 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand’s food prices declined in October as a drop in vegetable prices outweighed a surge in the cost of lamb chops and sausages.
Food prices dropped 0.6 percent in October from September, but rose 0.3 percent after seasonal adjustment, Statistics New Zealand said. They were 0.6 percent higher than in October last year.
Lamb chop prices jumped 7.7 percent from September, reaching a record high $17.12 a kilogram, while the cost of sausages climbed 4.9 percent to $10.30 a kilo, according to Stats NZ.
“Strong demand for exports of New Zealand meat, particularly lamb, and also falls in the New Zealand dollar, helped push our meat prices up," consumer prices manager Geraldine Duoba said.
However, the price of sirloin and porterhouse steak eased from the recent high in September to $30.72 per kilogram.
Overall, meat, poultry and fish prices rose 2.4 percent in October.
Keeping costs in check, vegetable prices dropped 8.7 percent in October, following a similar slide in September. Tomato prices sank 22 percent to $6.90 a kilogram, while lettuce plunged 30 percent to $1.28 per 500-gram head.
“Tomatoes, courgettes and lettuces all had seasonal price falls this month,” Duoba said. “These prices usually keep falling as we head towards summer.”
Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices inched 0.1 percent higher last month.
Compared with a year earlier, food prices climbed 0.6 percent, bolstered by a 2.9 percent gain in restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices and a 2.6 percent increase in meat, poultry and fish prices. A drop in vegetable and fruit prices, down 5.6 percent, helped keep a lid on overall food inflation for the year.
The food price index accounts for about 19 percent of the consumers price index, which is the Reserve Bank's mandated inflation target when setting interest rates.
At the Reserve Bank’s latest cash rate review, Governor Adrian Orr said the central bank expects to keep the official cash rate at the current level, or 1.75 percent, into 2020 and pared back language around a possible rate cut.