Food prices rocket

02:40, Jul 22 2009
Basket of food
COSTING MORE: Food prices rocketed by 2.8 percent last month - the biggest increase in 20 years.

Food prices rocketed by 2.8 percent last month - the biggest increase in 20 years.

Figures from Statistics New Zealand show that food prices have soared by 8.4 percent in the 12 months to June.

The bad news for those picking up the weekly supermarket bill is in sharp contrast to the official figures for overall inflation - which show that the annual rate has dropped to 1.9 percent.

SNZ said that the big lift in grocery bills in June was the biggest monthly increase since a 3.8 percent rise in July 1989 - but that rise was fuelled by a lift in the rate of goods and services tax.

The latest figures show that while overall inflation has subsided sharply, this isn't being reflected in the supermarket aisles, where the rate of inflation is below where it was a year ago, but has actually picked up. The annual food price rise in May was just 6.8 percent, down from 7.6 percent in April.

SNZ said that all five of the food subgroups it measures increased in June. The most significant upward contribution came from a 15 percent rise in fruit and vegetables.


Government Statistician Geoff Bascand said that cold weather had hampered growing conditions.

Within this group there were stratospheric increases in the price of lettuce (up 122.8 percent) and tomatoes (66.7 percent higher).

However, SNZ said the rises in these two had put their prices "in line" with historical levels during the winter months after prices had been lower in April and May.

Bascand said that while vegetable prices were higher than in June 2008 "they are still below the levels seen in August 2008".

In terms of annual prices rises for the five food subgroups, grocery food was up 7.9 percent, meat, poultry and fish rose 12.1 percent, fruit and vegetables rose 12.7 percent, restaurant meals, ready-to-eat food rose 4.3 percent and non-alcoholic beverages rose 7 percent.