New Zealand food prices rose in April from March as Kiwis paid more for vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers while enjoying cheaper prices for beef and chicken.
Food prices gained 0.3 per cent last month, or 0.2 per cent seasonally adjusted, for an annual gain of 0.5 per cent, Statistics New Zealand said. The food price index recorded its first annual gain in seven months, the figures show.
Food prices make up almost 19 per cent of the consumers price index, which has remained stubbornly below the Reserve Bank's 1 per cent-to-3 per cent target range since December 2014 and isn't forecast to return within the band until the fourth quarter of this year. Traders are betting the central bank will cut the official cash rate to a record low 2 per cent at its June 9 monetary policy statement.
Fruit and vegetable prices rose 3.9 per cent in April, following a 1.9 per cent gain in March. Vegetable prices rose 6.3 per cent, led by a 69 per cent jump in tomato prices and a 46 per cent increase for cucumbers. Fruit prices rose 1.1 per cent, led by gains for avocados and strawberries.
Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food rose 0.2 per cent and grocery foods gained 0.1 per cent, as a 4.2 per cent rise in cheese prices was offset by lower prices for lollies. Meat, poultry, and fish prices fell 1.7 per cent, as beef declined 3.9 per cent and chicken fell 2.3 per cent. Lamb rose 2.9 per cent.
Non-alcoholic beverage prices fell 0.2 per cent in the latest month, led by lower prices for energy drinks and bottled water.