New Zealand food prices rose last month, led by a spike in the price of kumara, while prices fell for the year, led by cheaper vegetables, dairy and lamb products.

The food price index rose 0.2 per cent, in its third monthly increase this year, Statistics New Zealand said. Prices fell 1.8 per cent compared to the same period a year earlier.

July's rise was led by a 4.4 per cent hike in fruit and vegetables. That was led by an 84 per cent increase in kumara prices to their highest level since February 2008, influenced by low prices in July 2011 and poor weather conditions for both planting and harvesting affecting this year's crop.

Non-alcoholic beverages also rose 0.1 per cent, while restaurant meals and ready-to-go meals fell 0.1 per cent along with meat, poultry and fish prices down 0.2 per cent and grocery food prices down 0.6 per cent.


July's annual decline was led by a 6.6 per cent decrease in fruit and vegetables, a 1.7 per cent drop in grocery prices and a 1.6 per cent decline in meat, fish and poultry products. Non-alcoholic drinks slipped 2.1 per cent.

Restaurant meals and ready-to-go foods bucked the trend, rising 1.4 per cent in the past year.