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New Zealand Food Prices Climb 1.0% On Month


Food prices jumped a seasonally adjusted 1.0 percent on month in March, Statistics New Zealand said on Monday - following a 0.5 percent decline in February.

This rise was mainly driven by the lift in vegetable prices, up 11 percent. Meat prices rose 1.2 percent in the month.

There was no change in grocery and non-alcoholic beverage prices in March and little change in restaurant and takeaways prices (up 0.1 percent).

Tomato, lettuce, cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli prices rose sharply in March, boosting vegetable prices 9.5 percent.

"Vegetable crops have been affected by a run of storms in recent weeks - lower supply due to bad weather usually means higher prices," consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said.

"In February, we saw rising prices for lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower, due to a combination of humid weather and cyclone Gita. As expected, that wet weather has affected vegetable prices in March too."

Tomatoes rose more than 60 percent in March to NZ$4.65 a kilo. In March 2017, tomatoes were 83 cents cheaper at NZ$3.82 a kilo.

Lettuce prices were up 20 percent in March to NZ$2.94 per 500-gram head, while cauliflower rose 85 percent to NZ$8.35 a kilo.

Cabbage prices rose by more than NZ$1.00 a kilo in March to NZ$3.18 a kilo (up 50 percent). Broccoli also increased more than NZ$1.00 a kilo to NZ$8.35 a kilo (up 20 percent).

However, as usual for the time of year, apple prices fell - down 16 percent to NZ$2.70 a kilo. Fruit prices rose 0.2 percent in March.

Also on Monday, the latest survey from BusinessNZ showed that the services sector in New Zealand continued to expand in March, and at a faster rate, with a Performance of Services Index score of 58.8.

That's up from the upwardly revised 55.3 in February (originally 55.0), and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

Individually, all five main indices expanded, including stocks/inventories, new orders/business, employment, activity/sales and supplier deliveries.

"Given both the PSI and its sister survey the Performance of Manufacturing Index (PMI) have recently shown activity levels down on 2017, the lift in March is welcome," BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope said.

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