NZ food prices rise in August on more expensive fruit and veg

New Zealand food prices rose in August, paring the previous month’s fall, as more expensive tomatoes, lettuce and broccoli offset discounted breads.

The food price index rose 0.3 percent last month, paring a 0.7 percent fall in June, according to Statistics New Zealand. The index was 0.7 percent higher than August 2013, bolstered by a rise in restaurant and ready to eat meals.

Food prices make up about 19 percent of the broader consumer price index, a measure of inflation in the economy, compiled by the national statistician. Today’s figures come after the Reserve Bank kept its official cash rate unchanged at 3.5 percent after inflation readings had been softer than expected. Governor Graeme Wheeler flagged a slower pace of future rate hikes, saying he wanted to assess the impact of 100 basis points of increases since March

August food prices rose from July as fruit and vegetable prices rose 5.1 percent, led by a 46 percent jump in the price of tomatoes. Broccoli prices increased 30 percent and lettuce rose 22 percent. Grocery food prices dropped 1.5 percent, reflecting a 29 percent drop in bread prices, as supermarkets discounted their own-brand bread to around $1, said Statistics NZ.

Meat, poultry and fish prices fell 0.3 percent, led by a 4.9 percent drop in mince and sausage prices. Non-alcoholic beverage prices rose 2 percent, with soft drinks rising 2.8 percent. Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices gained 0.2 percent.

On an annual basis, fruit and vegetable prices decreased 1 percent, while grocery food prices fell 0.6 percent. Meat, poultry and fish prices gained 2 percent, non-alcoholic beverage prices rose 2.3 percent and restaurant and ready-to-eat prices increased 2.4 percent.

Statistics NZ said CPI for the September quarter will be released a week later in October than normal, as it updates the measures and weighting of components in the index.

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