Global prices push butter to NZ record

Butter might butter better, but is becomingly increasingly expensive and harder for New Zealand consumers to afford.

Statistics New Zealand's food price index showed butter prices rose 11% in August to a record high of $5.39 a block.

The previous record was $5.05 in June. A check in Dunedin city supermarkets yesterday (Wednesday) found prices close to $7 for branded butter and about $6 for house brands.

Consumers price index manager Matthew Haigh said the average price of $5.39 for a cheapest available 500g block of butter was up 51c on July and up $2.07, or 62%, on August 2016.

''The annual butter price increase is the largest in percentage terms since 2010.

''We have seen butter prices rising lately due to New Zealand's export-driven markets. Butter prices have experienced all-time highs in the
global market and this also drives the price here at home.''

Overall, food prices rose 0.6% in August, he said.

Vegetable prices rose 5.4% in August and were the main contributor to the 0.6% rise in food prices. After seasonal adjustment, vegetable prices fell 1.1%.

Tomato prices were up to $10.42 a kg, compared with $9.50 in July and $10.92 in August last year. Tomato prices were seasonally high in August, Mr Haigh said.

In contrast to vegetable prices, fruit prices fell 0.5%, mainly due to lower prices for avocados, down 19%.

Avocado prices usually fell as spring approached and they were still coming down from a near record high in June. A 200g avocado cost $2.59 in August, compared to $3.20 in July and $4.52 in June. However, the price was still more than the average $1.72 in August last year.

Food prices increased 2.3% in the year to August, following a 3% to July 2017.

Mr Haigh said the smaller increase, compared with the year to July, was due to vegetable prices coming down from recent extremely high levels.

Vegetable prices increased 8.7% in the August year, led by kumara and potatoes. The price for a kg of kumara was $8 in August, up from $3.23 in August 2016.

''The exceptionally wet weather over the past year has had an impact on growing tuber vegetables such as potatoes and kumara. The crop losses and extra manual work required for harvesting has translated into higher prices on supermarket shelves.''


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