Food prices fall 0.7 percent in February

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MIL OSI – Source: Statistics New Zealand – Food prices fall 0.7 percent in February

In February 2015, food prices fell 0.7 percent, Statistics New Zealand said today. This follows a 1.3 percent rise in January and a 0.3 percent rise in December.

“Lower prices for fruit, vegetables, and meat this month were partly countered by higher prices for sweets, energy drinks, and soft drinks,” prices manager Chris Pike said.

In February, the fall in fruit and vegetable prices (down 2.4 percent) was influenced by seasonal price falls for both fruit (down 2.8 percent) and vegetables (down 2.1 percent). The main downward contributions came from apples and tomatoes, partly countered by higher prices for strawberries. Apple prices fell 23 percent from a peak in January, but are still 25 percent higher than a year earlier. New season apples arrived later than usual in January, and in smaller volumes, due to adverse weather conditions in spring.

Lower prices for meat, poultry, and fish (down 1.6 percent) were influenced by lower prices for all types of meat, particularly lamb, beef, and chicken. Prices for beef and chicken peaked in January 2015 and December 2014 respectively.

Grocery food prices fell 0.6 percent, with lower prices for snack foods, yoghurt, chocolate, and bread. These falls were partly countered by higher prices for sweets. The price of boxed chocolates (down 16 percent) falls every February, when Valentine’s Day occurs.

Prices for non-alcoholic beverages rose 1.1 percent, reflecting less discounting on energy drinks, soft drinks, and packaged coffee.

Annual change in prices

In the year to February 2015, food prices increased 1.5 percent, following a 1.2 percent increase in the year to January 2015.

Fruit and vegetable prices increased 11 percent. Prices were higher for lettuce, apples, potatoes, pumpkin, broccoli, and carrots, while prices for tomatoes were lower.

Meat, poultry, and fish prices increased 3.1 percent, reflecting higher prices for beef (up 9.6 percent).

Grocery food prices decreased 2.3 percent in the year to February, influenced by lower bread prices (down 12 percent). Supermarkets discounting some own-brand bread to about $1.00 from the second half of last year contributed to the lower bread prices. Prices for snack foods, butter, cheese, and chocolate also decreased, while fresh milk prices increased for the year.

The food price index (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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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues.
Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia’s FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand’s The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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