Food prices fell 1.0 percent in the March 2012 month, following a 0.6 percent rise in February, Statistics New Zealand said today.
"Prices fell in March for all five broad food categories. This last happened in October 2009," Statistics NZ prices manager Chris Pike said. The most significant decrease came from the fruit and vegetables subgroup (down 4.2 percent).
The fall in fruit and vegetable prices reflected seasonal price falls for apples (down 24 percent). Lower prices were also recorded for grapes (down 20 percent), pumpkin (down 26 percent), potatoes (down 5.8 percent), and cauliflower (down 33 percent).
Prices for these fruits and vegetables usually fall at this time of the year. In March 2012, the meat, poultry, and fish subgroup (down 1.8 percent) was the next largest downward contributor to the food price index (FPI). This reflected lower prices for chicken pieces (down 4.0 percent), bacon (down 6.5 percent), lamb chops (down 7.8 percent), sausages (down 5.0 percent), and porterhouse/sirloin beef steak (down 3.5 percent).
These falls were influenced by more discounting in March than in February. Within the other subgroups, the most significant downward contributions to the FPI came from lower prices for chocolate biscuits (down 7.8 percent) and energy drinks (down 4.4 percent). These decreases reflect more discounting in March than in February.
For the year to March 2012, food prices increased 0.2 percent. Three of the five food subgroups made upward contributions to the FPI. Higher prices were recorded for grocery food (up 1.7 percent), restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food (up 1.4 percent), and non-alcoholic beverages (up 2.5 percent).
These rises were partly offset by price falls for fruit and vegetables (down 7.2 percent) and meat, poultry, and fish (down 0.9 percent). The FPI measures the rate of price change of food and food services purchased by households. Statistics NZ visits shops across New Zealand to collect prices for the FPI and check package sizes.