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Food Prices Fall in June

The Food Price Index fell by 0.7 per cent in the June 1999 month following a fall of 0.4 per cent in May and unchanged food prices in April, said Government Statistician Len Cook. This has resulted in food prices overall having a downward influence on the June 1999 quarter Consumers Price Index.

Food prices for January and February rose by 0.8 and 1.1 per cent respectively, while March fell by 0.8 per cent. Compared with a year earlier, food prices were 1.4 per cent higher in June. This is the lowest annual rise in food prices since November 1997, when prices rose by 0.9 per cent from a year earlier.

Driving down the price level in June were the indexes for fruit and vegetables, and for grocery food, soft drinks and confectionery. A small rise was recorded for the meat, fish and poultry index along with a slight rise in restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices.

Overall, fresh fruit and vegetable prices made the most significant downward contribution to the June Food Price Index, while prices for beef and flour had the most significant upward effect.

Falling prices for potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli and salad greens were largely responsible for this month's 4.8 per cent decrease in fruit and vegetable prices. Significant price increases were recorded for pumpkin, canned fruit and kiwifruit. Fruit and vegetable prices were 0.7 per cent higher in June 1999 than in June 1998. Falling prices for soft drinks and fruit juice contributed to the grocery foods, soft drinks and confectionery price decrease of 0.4 per cent. Significant price increases were recorded in June for flour and potato crisps. Grocery food prices were 1.1 per cent higher than in the June 1998 month.

Meat, fish and poultry prices rose by 0.9 per cent in June. This follows a 1.0 per cent fall from April to May 1999. The top contributors to the June rise were steak, mince and corned beef. Partially offsetting these rises were decreases for pork, lamb chops and lamb roasts. Meat, fish and poultry prices were 2.4 per cent higher in June 1999 than in June 1998.

Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices rose by 0.4 per cent in June and were 1.9 per cent higher than in June 1998.

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

GOVERNMENT STATISTICIAN

15 July 1999

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