Many caught out by soaring cost of food

New Zealand is the land of milk and honey - if you have the money, food bank staff say, as meat and milk hit record highs.

Statistics New Zealand data released yesterday revealed in the year to June, food prices increased 1.2%, resulting in the highest price since July 2011.

In June, vegetable prices increased 8.9%.

Meat, poultry and fish prices increased 3.6% - the largest monthly rise since July 2011.

Prices manager Chris Pike said the vegetable price increase was influenced by seasonally higher prices for fresh vegetables.

Higher meat prices - chicken up 9.9% and beef up 5% - were due to less discounting, he said.

Dairy product prices also increased - butter was up 7.7%, yoghurt 3.6%, cheese 0.8% and fresh milk 0.2%.

In the year to June, fresh milk was up 11%, cheese 12%, yoghurt 7.2%, and butter 12%.

In the same time, the meat, poultry, and fish group increased 2.8% and reached its highest level. Beef was up 6.9%, lamb 20% and chicken 2.4%.

Beef had charged to its highest prices, 3.1% higher than its previous peak in April, but lamb was 14% below its peak price of August 2011.

OUSA food bank advocate Philippa Keaney said international students were ''flummoxed'' by the cost of food in New Zealand.

''They had no idea it was going to be so expensive.''

The high cost of meat and dairy surprised the students, who expected it to be cheaper, due the strength of the primary industry in New Zealand.

The high cost of cheese was a common complaint from many international students, she said.

Before arriving, many students had been oblivious of the cost for ''standard provisions'' in New Zealand and some needed food bank bags.

''I expect we will see more of that with international students,'' Ms Keaney said. About 20 food bags had been given in the past three weeks, ''which is quite high, considering the past two weeks have been semester break''.

The association encouraged students to shop away from supermarkets and investigate alternative vegetable suppliers.chief executive Gillian Bremner said demand in the food bank had doubled in the past nine months.

''For many people who are struggling, the ability to buy meat and vegetables has always been an issue.''

The most affordable meat was mince or sausages but fresh fish was ''beyond our clients'', she said.

Many spent their limited income on cheaper food that ''filled the tummy but lacked nutrition''.

June food price rise
Vegetables: up 8.9%
Chicken: up 9.9%
Beef: up 5%
Butter: up 7.7%
Yoghurt: up 3.6%
Cheese: up 0.8%
Fresh milk: up 0.2%
Fruit down: 0.5%
Bread and cereals: down 0.3%

Average retail price for the cheapest available 2-litre blue-top milk: June 2014, $3.62 June 2013, $3.19


The quartz miners

Lgn, Great Grandpater hewed quartz at Globe Hill, and whacked scabs. I'm from Grey.

Inflation headed to 13 year high

This is one of the headlines in today's ODT if you missed it. It's not about wether people are paid more than others. It's about surviving from one week to the next and hoping no big bills come due in the meantime for most working poor. The higher salaries commision award bosses 10% more with no complaints and those same bosses will argue all year with the Union about whether the workers will get 0 or 1 or 1.5%. Can we hold you to that for two years? (Think of the business, times are hard). Thank you National for helping us catch up with Australia as promised another "seamless inclusing into the national park".

Not an idea from the left

Although I've talked to a lot of people to the left of your political ideology Te Jackle, I've yet to meet one who hates their employer for being successful. They may dislike them for other reasons, but the idea of hating someone because of their success would not occur to the vast majority of people. Likewise, most people are not motivated by envy. The only time I hear these concepts mentioned is by right-wing nutters who seem to have a deep understanding of the concepts.

Sharing the good news

Hiya Albert, I too come from Reefton, where my family has lived since it was first settled. My grandfather was a well-known horse man on the coast in the late 1890s- 1900s, my family had sheep stations and gold mines. My father and his brothers all belonged to the fire brigade and my father worked all the main coal mines around Reefton. So good to know ya mate one true-blue coaster to another.

Te Jackle, I ran my own business which makes good money and I pay my employees well over min wage. I do this because I value my employees as the most important asset I have. There is no "left wing envy, hating employers for being successful" here as I make a good living. I never said my wife was a slave to her boss, your words not mine. And yes, my wife has been successful in her own right, both in sports and having started and owned business herself, before stress and ill health got to her. I guess you didn't read the bit about my owning my own business. Which by the way I started from nothing and now employ 6 people who are all paid a min of $16 per hour.

QsRc My wife happens to enjoy her job and as we don't need the money why would she move on? I don't have a problem with "employer celebrating his/her success buying a car and taking a holiday".

I do have a problem with any employer who puts themselves and their lifestyle above those of their employees. And their ability to live a decent life themselves while the employer lives the high life with little or no regard for the staff's well being.

As I said in my earlier post, min wage was never intended to be anything other than the min that an employer can pay an employee, that does not mean this is all the employer should be paying, if a business is making good profits then the employer should be sharing the good news around his/her employees.


Low wage economy

The employer makes a profit, but could not achieve it without good staff. The employer, therefore, is lucky to have the staff. By any measure, ten years on the same wage is inequitable. This may be due to the macro low wage economy, set by the government.

Move on

Lgn: If your wife is the outstanding employee you state why doesn't she move on? Go to another enployer who will reward her?

What's wrong with the employeer celebrating his success buying a car and taking a holiday? They obviously are successful so let them celebrate it.

My boss gets a new truck every year, has several properties and take holidays. I'm not complaining - I'm busy plotting how to get that as well!




Tall Poppy syndrome

Ing: your argument is fraught with hypocrisy. Your first paragraph states your wife is paid above the minimum wage you then go on to outline her bosses success. Has your wife put everything on the line in order to create any success for herself as her employer probably has? This smacks of left wing envy, hating employers for being successful and your wife being a supposed slave to him therefore enabling his lifestyle. If your wife's boss was not successful she wouldn't be employed full stop.

This is the scenario driven by Labour who hate the fact some have and others have not. There will always be successful business owners who have more - they are not obliged to share their wealth with their workers and are in most cases paying union awarded wages. If you want to share the wealth then put up some capital and share the risk. If she is unhappy get another job.


lgn: Great comment. My great grandfather was with Miners' Union Reefton and Kai (heck, some of that was the nineteenth century). Pity we cant know who the employer is you cite. If a publican, I'd boycott his beer.

Fair day's wage for a fair day's work

My wife is paid 50c over minimum wage after more than 10 years working for the same place. She works for a person whose wife buys a new sports car every year, and thinks nothing of spending large amounts on clothes each week, while he buys a new Holden or Ford each year. They dine out most nights. They employ their children when they leave school at a higher rate per hour than their long term workers. They spend 4 months of every year overseas. Ask her boss for a pay raise and he says sorry, can’t afford it right now, but I would love to pay your more, as he runs out the door on yet a another overseas holiday or on his way to the car dealer.

Minimum wage was never supposed be what an employer should pay you - it is meant to be the minimum they pay if they cannot afford to pay more. My wife’s employer can afford to pay more per hour than he does without it having any impact on his living standard, but he chooses not to. I do not have a problem with their lifestyle but think they should pay their employees a fair wage for the long hours they work. (My wife works up to 70 hrs p/w and is the go to person when anything goes wrong yet she is paid under $15 p/h).

There’s the reason for the cost of living going up. The few who can afford to pay high prices without complaint, so the rest of us don’t get a choice - it's pay or don’t eat, don’t have the lights on etc. 
My opinion is any employer who pays minimum wage should be means-tested to make sure they cannot afford to pay their employees a better wage. If they are shown to be able to afford higher wages then they should be forced to do so. Minimum wage should only really be there for start up business until they get on their feet.

It's my opinion as an employer that I have a responsibility to make sure that those I employ are paid a fair wage for the work they do for me and can have a reasonable lifestyle, can afford to pay for the things they need, and not have to make a choice between paying the doctor's bill or buying enough food. My father once said a fair day's pay for a fair day's work was all he asked from his employers. He worked in the coal mines on the West Coast back from the 40s through to the 80s and was paid a low wage. What he said has always stayed with me, as he worked himself to death to put food on the table.[Abridged]


Bring back slavery, right?

"Be prepared for more job losses as businesses cannot sustain paying such high wages" as the living wage, according to  tosh7.  Any business that relies on exploitation, paying wages insufficient for a person to live on, is already a failed business, unless of course one believes we moved too far  when slavery was abolished.  If they cannot pay the costs of business - wages, rent, materials, electricity, tax - they are not in a business, they are in la-la-land.

Another absurdity is the advice to "encourage those earning mimimum wage to upgrade their skills and ability to move into a higher paying job".  Sure.  Great scheme.  Well, it would be if there were higher paying jobs available.  And what of the jobs these newly upgraded people walk away from to higher paid work, is someone else going to do the sub-living-wage jobs?  If so the problem of workers being exploited hasn't been solved.  All that has happened is that some different people are working for mouldy peanuts.  Not such a good idea after all when one thinks about it for more than 10 seconds, is it? 

Utter tosh

It certainly is tosh. We live in an expensive country - we are in the top 10 (and rising) in terms of cost of living and only 31st in average disposable income after tax. It is this that is driving the high minimum wage, not the other way around.


Vege growers and beef farmers deserve to be paid more so hopefully the rise isn't soaked up by supermarkets.

Skillo: 2.5% increase in GST was offset by tax cuts and wasn't during this period so I don't buy that they have a role in this price rise.

Nightimejohn: Colin Craig is just one extremist. There are more extremists on the left. Kim Dotcom, John Minto, Hone Harawira, Turei and Norman are more likely to influence a left wing Government than Craig alone is to influence a right wing one. Minority parties are inherent and important components of MMP so we shouldn't really knock them as some people genuinely share those extreme values and they deserve a voice.

Thanks to National

Thanks to National and it's rich cronies, it looks like saveloy soup may be the only thing I can afford, or have on the menu in the next few months/years to come

Be prepared to pay even more

Even more will be caught with high prices if the living wage (or a higher minimum wage) is implemented. Within 1-2 years, the high living wage will filter to all sectors, thus food prices, rates and all basic necessities prices will increase even more. Those earning the new high minimum wage will again find it tough going and we are back to square ones.

We are already in the world's top 8 countries with the highest minimum wage. Be prepared for more job losses as businesses cannot sustain paying such high wages. High cost structures plus high NZ$ are double whammy for our exporters. Businesses may be forced to move offshore, means more job losses.

Let's encourage those earning mimimum wage to upgrade their skills and ability to move into a higher paying job. 

Do any of them have an anwser?

This government has very clearly failed to deliver better living standards or policy to bring positive change to most New Zealanders after six years in office. Big business increased profit, sustianed record commodity prices, there were state asset sales, lower social costs, decreased tax for high income earners, and increased government borrowing has produced a government surplus -but for who?

The Government blames left-wing opposition parties at every oppertunity and overseas econmic conditions for a continuing decline. The rich pocket tax cuts, buy up our once state assets and continue to get richer. Buisness conditions continue to harden for many small and medium-sized businesses.

Do we believe the blame game or accept the perception of weak opposition the media presents? Are there real solutions to unemployment and rising power, food and housing costs?

Currently we see more companies closing, more people become affected by poverty and joblessness and are unable to afford life's essentials. More of the same will only bring more of the same.



John Key's leadership

Does anyone remember John Key and his block of cheese? Making a fair point about rising food costs, as I remember.  Mind you, one of National's first acts after coming to power was to raise the level of GST so food pices were raised to help fund the tax cuts for the better off. I guess he showed his true (blue) colours, and I tremble at the thought that he and his cronies might be in line for another term. That the likes of Colin Craig might help make this a reality makes me come out in a distinct shiver.

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