Food prices increased 0.2 percent in the March 2010 month, Statistics New Zealand said today.
This increase follows a 1.3 percent fall in February and a 2.1 percent rise in January.
In March 2010, the meat, poultry, and fish subgroup increased 1.3 percent. This was largely driven by higher prices for porterhouse/sirloin steak (up 17.7 percent) and fresh chicken (up 5.0 percent).
Porterhouse/sirloin steak prices have rebounded since February, when extensive discounting led to a 17.6 percent fall. Fruit and vegetable prices fell 1.9 percent in March 2010, with prices for apples falling 19.6 percent.
Apple prices typically fall by about 20 percent in February and by a further 20 percent in March, as the new season's crop becomes more widely available. This fall was partly offset by higher prices for lettuce (up 21.2 percent).
For the year to March 2010, food prices rose 0.3 percent. This is the smallest annual increase since the year to July 2004, when prices fell 0.1 percent. In the year to March 2010, three subgroups recorded increases: grocery food (up 1.1 percent), restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food (up 2.3 percent), and non-alcoholic beverages (up 2.2 percent).
Prices for fruit and vegetables (down 5.3 percent) and meat, poultry, and fish (down 0.3 percent) fell in the year to March 2010. Annual falls in the fruit and vegetables subgroup have now been recorded for eight consecutive months.
"Although food prices are now 0.3 percent higher than a year ago, they are 8.9 percent higher than two years ago," Statistics New Zealand's prices manager Chris Pike said.