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James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Families feel the pinch despite price drops

Te Amohia McQueen shops carefully with two of her children, Shyloh Tahere (left) and Maniapuhi Tahere. Picture / Christine Cornege.
Te Amohia McQueen shops carefully with two of her children, Shyloh Tahere (left) and Maniapuhi Tahere. Picture / Christine Cornege.

Te Amohia McQueen has started buying butter again. She stopped 18 months ago when it was nearly $5 for 500g.

She's also hoping to eat a roast dinner again because it's been more than two years since her family had one.

"It's just too expensive so we are finding we just don't eat as much meat as we used to.

"We only just started buying butter again because it was $5 a pound and we couldn't afford it. It's about $3.50 now, which I think is still a bit expensive but you can't beat butter."

Figures from Statistics New Zealand show that while overall food prices rose 1.4 per cent for the month of June, they are 0.2 per cent lower than a year ago.

But shoppers the Weekend Herald spoke to said those changes were barely noticeable and even after changing their spending and shopping habits, they still found many items too expensive.

Mrs McQueen spends between $250 and $300 a week on groceries for her family of five children.

Of that, up to $80 a week is spent on fruit and vegetables.

She has noticed the change in prices for vegetables, which not unusually for this time of year have made the most significant increase of 9 per cent, mainly because of a seasonal increase in tomato prices - up 42 per cent for June after a 58 per cent increase in May.

Also up are avocados (37 per cent), nectarines (51 per cent), broccoli (54 per cent), and lettuce (17 per cent).

Mrs McQueen splits her weekly shopping among Pak'nSave for groceries, Nosh for its cheap milk and a local fruit and vegetable store.

"You really have to shop around now so I go through pamphlets and have a look around."

Judy Lucking buys all her vegetables and fruit at a suburban store, which she says "is at least a dollar a kilogram cheaper than at the supermarkets. I saw some garlic in Pak'nSave; it worked out to $34 a kilo.Here it is $16 a kilo. It's fair to say I'm very wary of prices".

She says meat and fish are more expensive so she has had to ration the way she prepares her week's meals.

"We will buy a roast but that has to last two meals and four lunches. We have a budget and if that means spaghetti on toast then that's what it is."

Mangere Budgeting Services Trust chief executive Darryl Evans said the Statistics figures were a surprise, as his service had seen a 69 per cent increase in the past 12 months of people requesting food parcels.

"Up until the recession it was always budgeting advice, but now every person that comes through our door will ask for a food parcel."

The Statistics figures showed that fresh milk prices were down 11 per cent, cheddar cheese down 16 per cent and butter down 24 per cent.

But Mr Evans said this still did not make them any more affordable.

"They're still expensive - when I grew up a block of cheese and a packet of bacon weren't classed as luxury items but they are now.

"Most people don't buy dairy products because they're just beyond what they can afford," he said.

Basic food costs:

Tomatoes 1 kg:
New World $9.99
Pak n' Save $8.99
Vege King $7.99
Nosh $7.99
12 months ago: $9.09 (average)

Carrots 1 kg:
New World $1.29
Pak n' Save $1.00
Vege King 99c
Nosh 99c
12 months ago: $2.00 (average)

Cauliflower (whole)
Nosh $3.79
New World $2.99
Pak n'Save $1.99
Vege King $1.99

Kumara 1kg:
New World $6.99
Pak n' Save $4.20
Nosh $4.00
Vege King $3.99

Bananas 1kg:
New World $2.99
Pak n' Save: $1.99
Nosh $1.99
Vege King $1.89
12 months ago: $2.70 (average)

Onions 1kg:
Vege King $1.49
New World $1.29
Pak n' Save $1.13
Nosh 99c

Eggs (No 7 eggs 1 dozen):
Nosh $5.00
Pak n' Save: $3.49
New World $3.49
Vege King $3.30
12 months ago: $3.44 (average)

Milk 2 litres (cheapest brand)
New World $3.09
Vege King $2.99
Pak n' Save $2.98
Nosh $1.99
12 months ago: $3.68 (average)

Butter 500 grams:
Nosh $6.99
New World $3.99
Vege King $3.89
Pak n' Save $3.29
12 months ago: $4.66 (average)

Tasty cheese 500 grams:
New World $8.55
Pak n' Save
$6.99

- NZ Herald

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