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NZ food prices unchanged in Sept as cheaper veges offset dearer milk

Friday 11th October 2013

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New Zealand food prices were unchanged in September as cheaper vegetables coming into season were offset by more expensive fresh milk and pork.

The food price index was unchanged last month from a 0.5 percent fall in August, according to Statistics New Zealand. Food prices are up 1.2 percent from September 2012, the biggest annual increase since February last year.

The price of veges dropped 7.4 percent in September, with tomatoes and lettuce coming into season, though that was offset by a 6.4 percent jump in the price of fresh milk, its biggest gain since July 2007, and a 6.2 percent rise in the price of pork.

Fruit and vegetable prices dropped 4.3 percent last month, the only sub-group to decline, while meat, poultry and fish prices and grocery food prices both rose 0.9 percent. Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices were up 0.8 percent while non-alcoholic beverages increased 0.1 percent.

Grocery foods account for about 38 percent of household spending on food, followed by about 21 percent on eating out and takeaways, 16 percent on meat, poultry and fish, 14 percent on fruit and vegetables, and 11 percent on non-alcoholic beverages.

On an annual basis, fruit and vegetable prices were down 0.3 percent, while grocery food prices rose 2 percent, non-alcoholic beverages increased 1.9 percent, restaurant meals and ready-to-eat foods were up 1.1 percent and meat, poultry and fish prices increased 0.3 percent.

Food prices account for about 19 percent of the Consumers Price Index, which showed an annual pace of inflation of 0.7 percent in the June quarter, the slowest pace since 1999.

The CPI for the three months to Sept 30 is due for release next week, and ASB economists predict quarterly price growth of 1 percent in the period.

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