Wet weather pushes vege prices up

Tomatoes rose more than 60% in March. Photo: ODT files
Tomatoes rose more than 60% in March. Photo: ODT files

New Zealand food prices rose 1% in March from February as wet weather pushed up vegetable prices 11%.

Statistics New Zealand said that after adjusting for typical seasonal changes, vegetable prices increased 9.5% in the month due to sharp rises in tomato, lettuce, cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli prices.

"Vegetable crops have been affected by a run of storms in recent weeks - lower supply due to bad weather usually means higher prices," Statistics NZ consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said.

"In February, we saw rising prices for lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower, due to a combination of humid weather and Cyclone Gita. As expected, that wet weather has affected vegetable prices in March too."

Tomatoes rose more than 60% in March to $4.65 a kilo. In March last year, tomatoes were 83 cents cheaper at $3.82 a kilo.

Lettuce prices were up 20%  in March to $2.94 per 500 gram head, while cauliflower rose 85 percent to $8.35 a kilo.

Cabbage prices rose by more than $1 a kilo in March to $3.18 a kilo (up 50%). Broccoli also increased more than $1 a kilo to $8.35 a kilo (up 20%).

However, as usual for the time of year, apple prices fell - down 16% to $2.70 a kilo. Fruit prices rose 0.2% in March.

Overall, food prices were 1.4% higher in March this year than March last year, the statistics agency said.

Vegetable prices were up 8.8% over the year, while mutton, lamb and hogget prices jumped 14.1 percent. Prices for fish and other seafood were up 6.7 percent, while oils and fats increased 12.2 %.

Meanwhile, pork prices dropped 7.7%, cakes and biscuits fell 4.5% and breakfast cereal prices slid 3.4%.

The food price index accounts for about 19% of the consumers' price index, which is the Reserve Bank's mandated inflation target when setting interest rates.

- BusinessDesk

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