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Food Prices Fall in May

Food Price Index - May 1999

Food Prices Fall in May

The Food Price Index fell by 0.4 per cent in the May 1999 month, said Deputy Government Statistician Ian Ewing.

This follows unchanged food prices in the April month and falling prices of 0.8 percent from February to March 1999. The changes for April and May suggest there is little evidence so far this quarter of inflationary pressure coming from food prices. Compared with a year earlier, food prices were 2.4 per cent higher in May 1999.

Driving down the price level in May were the indexes for meat, fish and poultry, for grocery foods and for fruit and vegetables. The overall price level of restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food remained unchanged in May 1999.

Falling steak and mince prices were largely responsible for the May month's 1.0 per cent decrease in meat, fish and poultry prices. Price increases were recorded for pork and poultry. Meat, fish and poultry prices were 2.3 per cent higher in May 1999 than in May 1998.

Falling prices for bananas, carrots and mandarins were major contributors to the fruit and vegetables price decrease of 1.1 per cent. Significant price increases were recorded in May for tomatoes and potatoes. In May 1999, fruit and vegetable prices were 5.3 per cent higher than in the May 1998 month.

Grocery food prices dropped 0.3 per cent in May. This follows a 0.6 per cent price fall from March to April 1999. The top three contributors to this downward price movement were butter, fruit drinks and flour products. Partially offsetting these falls in grocery food prices were increases for coffee and biscuits. Grocery food prices were 1.9 per cent higher in May 1999 than in May 1998.

Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices, while remaining unchanged this month, were 1.5 per cent higher than in May 1998.

The recent monthly falls in the Food Price Index and lower annual increases are consistent with the lower levels of growth in food retailing sales since November 1998.

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