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New Zealand Food Prices Move Up 0.1% In April

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Food prices in New Zealand added 0.1 percent on month in April, Statistics New Zealand said on Friday - following the 1.0 percent jump in March.

Higher prices for ready-to-eat and grocery foods were balanced by a drop for meat and many vegetables - except for tomatoes, which more than doubled in price in just two months.

Ready-to-eat food rose 0.7 percent in April, with prices rising for ethnic food (up 1.6 percent), takeaway coffee (up 0.7 percent), and takeaway pizza (up 1.0 percent).

"Prices for restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food usually increase steadily over time; however, these items all rose more than usual in April," consumer prices manager Geraldine Duoba said.

"The minimum wage increase of 75 cents to NZ$16.50 an hour on 1 April may have been a factor, as labor costs make up a significant proportion of these businesses' costs."

Vegetable prices fell 1.6 percent in April. Lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower all fell strongly, following high prices in March. After adjusting for seasonal movements, vegetables prices fell 5.1 percent.

"While vegetable prices fell in April, tomato prices continued to rise," Duoba said. "Tomato prices rose 41 percent this month, following a more than 60 percent rise in March."

Meat prices fell in April, with poultry prices falling 4.5 percent.

A 1kg pack of chicken pieces was NZ$7.63 in April, down from NZ$8.16 in March, and NZ$8.10 in April 2017. This was the lowest price since the series began in June 2014.

For the year to April, prices for meat and poultry increased 1.0 percent. Pork and lamb prices increased strongly with pork up 12 percent and lamb up 17 percent. These increases were offset by cheaper poultry prices, which decreased 6.8 percent in the latest year. Beef prices remained flat annually.

Also on Friday, the latest survey from BusinessNZ showed that the manufacturing sector in New Zealand continued to expand in April, and at a faster rate, with a two-year high PMI score of 58.9.

That's up from 53.1 in March, and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

"It's a move from so-so to outright strong. Of course, we wouldn't want to over interpret one month's result especially as it may have been, in part, artificially boosted by the timing of Easter. But, in the least, April's result suggests the economy has not fallen off the rails," BNZ Senior Economist Doug Steel said.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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