Food prices in New Zealand jumped 1.9 percent on month in January, Statistics New Zealand said on Thursday, following the 0.2 percent decline in December. It also marked the largest increase in a single month since July 2011.
The rise for grocery food was led by cakes and biscuits (up 5.4 percent), yogurt (up 9.0 percent), and bread (up 2.3 percent). Olive oil (down 17 percent) was discounted in January and was at its lowest price level since December 2002.
"In January, higher food prices reflected more expensive grocery food, after falls in recent months. We also had seasonally higher fruit and vegetable prices," prices manager Chris Pike said in a release accompanying the data.
The monthly rise for fruit and vegetables (up 3.5 percent) was led by seasonally higher prices for mandarins (up 23 percent), apples (up 7.7 percent), lettuce (up 20 percent), and broccoli (up 38 percent). Apple prices were at their highest level since December 2008. Falls for nectarines (down 23 percent) and pumpkin (down 13 percent) partly countered these rises.
Price rises for meat, poultry, and fish (up 2.2 percent) and non-alcoholic beverages (up 2.2 percent) were influenced by less discounting for lamb (up 25 percent) and soft drinks (up 3.6 percent).
On a yearly basis, food prices were up 0.8 percent following the 1.0 percent contraction in the previous month.
Fruit and vegetables (up 5.9 percent) made the main upward contribution for the year, led by kumara (up 98 percent), apples (up 21 percent), and avocados (up 86 percent). High kumara prices were influenced by poor weather conditions in both the planting and harvesting seasons, the data revealed, which affected the crop in 2012. There was a smaller crop for avocados in 2012, after a bumper season in 2011.
Meat, poultry, and fish prices increased 1.9 percent, largely due to chicken, which increased 9.6 percent from a low point in January 2012.
Grocery food (down 1.5 percent) was the only subgroup that decreased in the year to January 2013. Decreases in the prices of fresh milk (down 9.4 percent), cheese (down 6.0 percent), butter (down 18 percent), and bread (down 2.4 percent) were the key influences. Fresh milk prices were 9.6 percent lower than in February 2011, when they peaked.
by RTT Staff Writer
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