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Food price inflation slows as value of meat, poultry, fish fall

12th March 2021 By Shannon Williams | | @foodtickernz

Annual food prices increased 1.2% in February 2021, boosted by higher prices for eating out and ethnic foods, according to Stats NZ.

It was the smallest annual increase since July 2019 when food prices increased 0.9%.

Annual food price inflation reached 4.4% in April 2020, the largest annual rise in more than eight years. This was when New Zealand was in Covid-19 alert level 4 lockdown and prices rose sharply for potatoes and fresh eggs, with high annual increases for a range of other foods, such as cheese and bread.

“Since April, the rate of annual food price inflation has slowed, but remained above 2%,” Stats NZ consumer prices manager Katrina Dewbery said.

“Some food prices remain at high levels, but they are not increasing as fast as they were last year during the early stage of the pandemic.”

The relatively modest annual increase in overall food prices in February year was influenced by higher prices for restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food, up 3.7%. Within this, lunch meals, consisting of cafes and restaurant lunch options, and ethnic foods, including Thai and Indian, were the main contributors.

This was partly offset by lower prices for meat, poultry, and fish, down 2.4%. The biggest contributor to this decrease was chicken pieces, falling 9% in the 12 months to February to $7.69 per kg.

“Prices for chicken pieces have trended down since the series began in August 2015,” Dewbery said.

“Chicken is mostly for domestic markets, so is not as influenced by global trade prices as beef and lamb.

“Chicken is also one of the cheaper meat options, at roughly half the price of beef mince and less than one-third of the cost of steak, it is the most popular meat choice with shoppers.”

Stats NZ said big falls in apple prices helped push monthly food inflation down.

Apple prices fell 26% in February 2021, contributing to a fall in overall food prices of 0.9% in the month. This was partly offset by strawberry prices rising 27%.

“It is typical to see large price drops for apples and rises for strawberries as we reach the end of summer,” Dewbery said.

Tomato prices also fell, dropping 14% in February, to the cheapest hey have been in 12 years.

“Tomato prices are highly seasonal, typically falling in summer, but they reached an all-time high in August 2020,” Dewbery said.

Chocolate biscuits were down 11% for the month, while grilling or frying beef fell 5.6%, and yoghurt dropped 6.5%.

However, strawberry prices grew 22%, cauliflower increased 38%, and grapes rose 12%.



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