NZ Herald business editor at large

Vege prices soar: Carrot costs hit all time high

Food prices are higher almost across board, including carrots. Photo/Dean Purcell
Food prices are higher almost across board, including carrots. Photo/Dean Purcell

Prices for fruit and vegetables, and dairy products have soared in the past year with vegetables up 12 per cent. Carrots have hit a record high soaring 51 per cent in the year.

Food prices increased 2.2 per cent in the year to February 2017, Statistics NZ says.

"This was the largest annual increase since December 2011," consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said.

Higher prices were seen in all sub-groups except meat, poultry, and fish (down 2.0 per cent). Fruit and vegetables were up 7.7 percent and grocery food was up 2.3 percent.

Vegetable prices were up 12 per cent, led by higher prices for carrots, kumara, and tomatoes.

Carrot prices are at an all-time high, up 51 per cent since February 2016. One kilo of carrots cost $3.53 in February 2017, compared with $2.34 a year ago.

Poor growing conditions in the North Island last year had resulted in a shortage just before Christmas, said Brendan Hamilton of Pyper Produce, one of New Zealand's largest carrot supplier.

"The North Island had a bit of a shortfall, only for a period of three to four weeks, but that meant new season carrots had to be freighted up and that added some cost," he said.

It was likely the conditions had effected some other vegetable crops in the north, he said.

"Normally Pukekohe supply that November/December period, and then the Ohakune [carrots] come on but there was a gap where because of season conditions, and the Ohakune weren't ready."

Apple prices also contributed to the large movement, up 32 per cent from February last year. However, apple prices in February were down 13 percent from January.

Prices for dairy products also increased. Butter prices were up 33 per cent compared with February 2016, and 13 per cent from January 2017.

"500g of the cheapest available butter cost on average $4.58 this month, compared with $4.06 last month and $3.45 a year ago," Haigh said.

The rise in dairy reflects a rebound in global dairy prices in the middle of last year which i just flowing through to the supermarket shelves,

- NZ Herald

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