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Food prices down for year, despite small increase in July

Food prices down for year, despite small increase in July

Embargoed until 10:45am – 13 August 2012

Food prices fell 1.8 percent in the year to July 2012, despite a small monthly increase for July (up 0.2 percent), Statistics New Zealand said today.

"Food prices have fallen for the year, reflecting cheaper vegetables, dairy products, and lamb," prices manager Chris Pike said.

For the year to July 2012, food prices fell 1.8 percent. Four of the five food subgroups made downward contributions to the food price index (FPI). Lower prices were recorded for fruit and vegetables (down 6.6 percent), grocery food (down 1.7 percent), meat, poultry, and fish (down 1.6 percent), and non-alcoholic beverages (down 2.1 percent). Higher prices were recorded for restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food (up 1.4 percent).

The most significant decreases for the year came from lower prices for tomatoes (down 28 percent, from an average of $13.25/kg in July 2011 to $9.58/kg in July 2012) and lettuce (down 32 percent). The higher tomato prices in July 2011 were influenced by lower-than-usual imports from Australia last winter following floods in Queensland earlier in 2011.

Fresh milk prices were down 9.3 percent on July last year, and prices for cheddar cheese (down 15 percent) and butter (down 27 percent) were also lower.

Lamb prices were 24 percent lower than in July 2011, and are now at their lowest level since May 2010.

Kumara prices rose 84 percent to their highest level since February 2008, influenced by low prices in July 2011 and poor weather conditions in both the planting and harvesting seasons, which affected this year's crop.

In the July 2012 month, fruit and vegetable prices rose 4.4 percent, including a seasonal increase in lettuce prices (up 41 percent). Seasonally higher prices were also recorded for strawberries (up 23 percent) and capsicums (up 25 percent).

Grocery food prices fell 0.6 percent in July. Prices fell for bread (down 3.0 percent) and chocolate (down 4.5 percent). Fresh milk prices (down 1.5 percent) fell for the fourth month in a row.

The FPI measures the rate of price change of food and food services purchased by households. Statistics NZ visits shops across New Zealand to collect prices for the FPI and check package sizes.



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