South Canterbury dear place to eat

OUT OF REACH: Should we remove GST on fresh fruit and vegetables?
OUT OF REACH: Should we remove GST on fresh fruit and vegetables?

Supermarket operator Foodstuffs says a disparity in food prices affecting South Canterbury could be due to national and local promotions.

According to Statistics New Zealand's Food Price Index (FPI), food prices in Timaru rose 2.2 per cent in June, in comparison with the rest of the nation's 1.4 per cent increase.

Foodstuffs group communications director Antoinette Shallue said the reasons depended on when the comparison happened and what products were bought.

"Any given week, there are a number of national and local promotions which may affect prices between two individual stores.

"The nature of the Foodstuffs model is that, while each store does offer the majority of products at the same or similar prices nationwide, individual stores also have the ability to negotiate with local suppliers to get even better deals for their customers."

However, she would not be drawn on whether this meant local suppliers were to blame for the higher prices in Timaru.

"Without the actual data from Statistics NZ [on what particular food items were looked at] I cannot comment further."

In the year to June 2014, food prices increased 3 per cent in Timaru, compared with a 1.2 per cent increase nationally.

Food prices in June were influenced by seasonally higher prices for fresh vegetables and higher meat prices.

Timaru grocery prices rose 2.8 per cent last month, as against the 0.5 per cent rise across the country. At the same time fruit and vegetables in Timaru rose just 3.5 per cent against 5 per cent nationwide.

Statistics New Zealand prices manager Chris Pike said food prices are at their highest level since they peaked in July 2011.

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

The Timaru Herald