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Food Prices Rise in September

The Food Price Index rose by 0.3 per cent in the September 1999 month, said Deputy Government Statistician Ian Ewing. This follows a fall of 0.6 per cent in the August 1999 month and an increase of 0.5 per cent in the July 1999 month. Compared with a year earlier, food prices were 0.3 per cent lower in September 1999. This follows an annual decrease of 0.6 per cent from August 1998 to August 1999. Overall, food prices have been generally stable since July 1998.

Driving up the price level in September were the indexes for meat, fish and poultry, and for grocery foods. There was a downward contribution from fruit and vegetables.

Rising steak and lamb prices were largely responsible for the September month's 1.4 per cent increase in meat prices. Export beef and lamb returns have strengthened recently. Price decreases were recorded for fresh and frozen poultry.

Grocery food prices increased by 0.5 per cent in September. This follows a 0.9 per cent price fall from July to August 1999. The major contributors to this upward price movement were frozen or chilled meat pies, packs of sweets and lemonade. Partially offsetting these rises in grocery food prices was a significant decrease for potato crisps.

Price decreases for cauliflower, broccoli and potatoes contributed to an overall fruit and vegetable price fall of 1.2 per cent in September. A significant price increase was recorded for tomatoes. On an annual basis, the fruit and vegetables subgroup is 9.2 per cent lower than a year ago but 1.8 per cent higher than in September 1997.

On a regional basis, 10 of the 15 centres recorded overall food price increases in September 1999. Two of the centres remained unchanged and the remainder decreased. The largest increases occurred in Dunedin, which increased by 1.3 per cent and Wellington which increased by 1.2 per cent. The largest decrease occurred in Tauranga, where a decrease of 0.8 per cent was recorded.


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