Food prices hit record highs

By Shawn McAvinue

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

New Zealand is the land of milk and honey - if you have the money, food bank staff say, as meat and milk hit record highs.

Statistics New Zealand data released yesterday revealed in the year to June, food prices increased 1.2%, resulting in the highest price since July 2011.

In June, vegetable prices increased 8.9%.

Meat, poultry and fish prices increased 3.6% - the largest monthly rise since July 2011.

Prices manager Chris Pike said the vegetable price increase was influenced by seasonally higher prices for fresh vegetables.

Higher meat prices - chicken up 9.9% and beef up 5% - were due to less discounting, he said.

Dairy product prices also increased - butter was up 7.7%, yoghurt 3.6%, cheese 0.8% and fresh milk 0.2%.

In the year to June, fresh milk was up 11%, cheese 12%, yoghurt 7.2%, and butter 12%.

In the same time, the meat, poultry, and fish group increased 2.8% and reached its highest level. Beef was up 6.9%, lamb 20% and chicken 2.4%.

Beef had charged to its highest prices, 3.1% higher than its previous peak in April, but lamb was 14% below its peak price of August 2011.

OUSA food bank advocate Philippa Keaney said international students were ''flummoxed'' by the cost of food in New Zealand.

''They had no idea it was going to be so expensive.''

The high cost of meat and dairy surprised the students, who expected it to be cheaper, due the strength of the primary industry in New Zealand.

The high cost of cheese was a common complaint from many international students, she said.

Before arriving, many students had been oblivious of the cost for ''standard provisions'' in New Zealand and some needed food bank bags.

''I expect we will see more of that with international students,'' Ms Keaney said. About 20 food bags had been given in the past three weeks, ''which is quite high, considering the past two weeks have been semester break''.

The association encouraged students to shop away from supermarkets and investigate alternative vegetable suppliers.chief executive Gillian Bremner said demand in the food bank had doubled in the past nine months.

''For many people who are struggling, the ability to buy meat and vegetables has always been an issue.''

The most affordable meat was mince or sausages but fresh fish was ''beyond our clients'', she said.

Many spent their limited income on cheaper food that ''filled the tummy but lacked nutrition''.

June food price rise
Vegetables: up 8.9%
Chicken: up 9.9%
Beef: up 5%
Butter: up 7.7%
Yoghurt: up 3.6%
Cheese: up 0.8%
Fresh milk: up 0.2%
Fruit down: 0.5%
Bread and cereals: down 0.3%

Average retail price for the cheapest available 2-litre blue-top milk: June 2014, $3.62 June 2013, $3.19

- The Otago Daily Times

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