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Tomato and bacon prices streak ahead

Higher fruit and vegetable prices, as well as rising prices for meat, were key factors pushing overall food prices up 0.7 percent in August, Stats NZ said today.

Tomato prices rose to nearly $10 per kilogram in August, jumping over $3 per kilogram in price. At the same time, bacon prices rose to record levels this month.

“August is typically the most expensive time of the year to buy tomatoes, and last month was no excep-tion, with prices up 51 percent from July this year,” consumer prices manager Sarah Johnson said.

The weighted average price of 1 kilogram of tomatoes was $9.96 in August 2019, compared with $6.59 in July.

“However, the high levels in August this year are slightly lower than the $10.45 per kilo seen in August 2018,” Mrs Johnson said.

“In 2011, the peak in tomato prices was more than $13 per kilo, but there has been a downward trend in these winter peaks since that time.”

The cheapest time of year to buy tomatoes is typically mid-summer when they sell for less than $3 per kilogram.

Seasonal falls in strawberry prices (down 23 percent) and nectarines (down 13 percent) contributed to a fall in fruit prices, down 3.0 percent.

August also saw a number of record high prices for meat, especially bacon and beef mince.

Bacon was up 11 percent in August to a new record price of $12.96 for 700 grams (weighted average price). This compared with $11.66 last month, and $10.57 in August 2018.

“We import a lot of our bacon, so prices are very dependent on the global market,” Mrs Johnson said.

“There is currently a worldwide shortage of pork, following the outbreak of African swine fever, and this is impacting our prices.”

Ham also reached its highest price since 2015. The weighted average price of 1 kilogram of ham was $13.67 in August 2019, compared with $12.18 in July, and $11.77 in August 2018.

Beef mince reached a record high with a weighted average price of $16.21, compared with $15.39 in July, and $14.35 in August 2018.

“Increased demand from China has pushed up prices for New Zealand beef,” Mrs Johnson said.

“When export prices rise overseas, we often see it reflected on the shelf here, too.”

Soft drinks also reached record highs, with a 1.5-litre bottle reaching a weighted average price of $2.78, compared with $2.61 in July, and $2.57 in August 2018. This contributed to the 0.3 percent increase in the price of non-alcoholic beverages.

Annually, food prices rose 2.1 percent. This increase was driven by a rise in meat, poultry, and fish, up 8 percent.

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