New Zealand food prices recorded their biggest drop since October 2011 last month, led by declines in prices of apples, tomatoes, kumara, mandarins and chocolate bars.
Prices fell 1.3 per cent in March from February and declined 0.4 per cent from March 2012, according to Statistics New Zealand. The monthly decline was the biggest in 17 months.
Food prices make up about 19 per cent of the consumer price index, which will be released for the first quarter on April 17 and if the Reserve Bank's forecast is accurate, will show the inflation rate was 0.4 per cent after prices fell in the final quarter of 2012.
Prices of fruit and vegetables declined 6.5 per cent in March and gained 3.8 per cent in the year. Grocery prices declined 0.8 per cent in the month and fell 2.6 per cent in the year.
Meat, poultry and fish prices fell 0.9 per cent in March from February and were down 0.4 per cent for the same months of 2012. Non-alcoholic drinks fell 0.8 per cent in the month and 0.5 per cent in the year while restaurant and ready-to-eat meals rose 0.2 per cent in the month and rose 1.1 per cent in the year.