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Food prices increased in May for the second month in a row, influenced by seasonally higher prices for fresh vegetables, although these were mainly salad ingredients of lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers.
Annual food prices rose 1.8% as prices rose in all five subgroups. This is the third consecutive month all five subgroups have shown an annual increase. The monthly increase was 0.6%, following a 0.6% rise in April and falls in March and February.
Prices in the month of May were lower for bananas and chicken, according to figures released yesterday by Statistics New Zealand.
Vegetable prices rose 16% while fruit prices fell 3.9%. Banana prices fell 14% to an average price of $2.33 a kilogram, the lowest level since August 2011.
Prices for meat, poultry and fish fell 1.5%, reflecting cheaper prices for most meats including chicken, beef and pork.
Statistics NZ prices manager Chris Pike said grocery food prices barely changed, falling 0.1%. Lower prices for confectionery, nuts and snacks were offset by price rises for milk, cheese and eggs. Fresh milk reached its highest ever price level in May.
ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley food prices were expected to increase by up to 0.9% in the three months ended June, stronger than they had been heading into the previous two winters.
''Overall food price inflation remains moderate although there has been a slight tick up over the last year after a period of very subdued prices.''
At a glance
• Food prices rise 1.8% in year to May.
• Fresh milk reaches highest ever price
• Vegetable prices rose 16%
• Banana prices reach three-year low