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Meaty Increases Push Up Annual Food Prices

Higher prices for meat, poultry, and fish contributed to a 3.5 percent increase in food prices for the year ended January 2020, the largest annual rise in food prices in over eight years, Stats NZ said today.

“Meat, poultry, and fish prices have increased 6.0 percent in the year. Restaurant and ready-to-eat meals increased 3.4 percent, while fruit and vegetable prices were up 2.7 percent,” consumer prices manager Sarah Johnson said.

“Both beef mince and blade steak prices reached all-time highs in January, while bacon and lamb prices have increased sharply in the past 12 months. Decreased pork production in China during 2019 has increased export demand for New Zealand meat products, pushing prices up.”

China overtakes the US as top beef market has more on recent beef export statistics.

Significant meat price increases include:

  • bacon – up 21 percent to a weighted average price of $13.08 per 700 grams
  • beef mince – up 13 percent to a weighted average price of $17.07 per kilogram
  • lamb chops – up 14 percent to a weighted average price of $18.07 per kilogram
  • blade steak – up 8.2 percent to a weighted average price of $20.64 per kilogram.

“While prices for red and processed meats have increased, prices for poultry have remained relatively flat, decreasing 0.2 percent in the year to January,” Mrs Johnson said.

Prices for fish and other seafood also saw a modest increase, up 4.1 percent in the year ended January.

These increases were partly offset by decreasing prices for iceberg lettuce (down 34 percent), onions (down 15 percent), and honey (down 21 percent).

The overall annual increase in food prices is the largest since September 2011, when prices increased 4.7 percent.

“The previous high was influenced by a rise in GST in October 2010,” Mrs Johnson said.

Seasonal fruit and vegetable prices contribute to monthly rise

Higher prices for apples and strawberries contributed to a 2.1 percent rise in food prices for the January 2020 month.

“Apple prices generally peak in January. Between December 2019 and January 2020, apple prices rose 22 percent to a weighted average price of $4.62 per kilogram,” Mrs Johnson said.

In January 2019, the weighted average price for apples was $3.98 per kilogram.

Strawberry prices were also up, rising 68 percent in the month.

Large bottled soft drinks (up 8.8 percent), broccoli (up 58 percent), and yoghurt (up 8.4 percent) also contributed to the rise.

“We often see food prices rise in January following falls in December, as items go off Christmas specials,” Mrs Johnson said.

“Food prices rose 1.0 percent in January 2019, 1.2 percent in January 2018, and 2.8 percent in January 2017.”

The rises in the January 2020 month were partly offset by falls in prices of nectarines (down 23 percent), tomatoes (down 9.4 percent), and cabbages (down 19 percent).

The Government Statistician authorises all statistics and data we publish.

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