New data from Stats NZ offers hope that inflation may be starting to ease with food prices down in October - led by a fall in the price of cheese.
Food prices in New Zealand were 6.3 per cent higher than a year ago but were cheaper in October 2023 than they were a month earlier, according to figures released by Stats NZ today.
Food prices fell 0.9 per cent in October 2023 due to broad falls in the majority of subgroups. Even adjusting for seasonal effects, they fell 0.1 per cent.
The fruit and vegetables subgroup was the largest contributor to the monthly fall, followed by grocery food. The grocery items that contributed the most to the monthly fall were cheese, white bread, and muesli bars.
Global commodity prices for dairy have fallen significantly since the start of the year and are now flowing through to the retail level.
But on an annual basis prices still rose across the five broad food categories measured by Stats NZ. Price movements for all five groups for the 12 months to October 2023, in order of their contribution to the overall movement, were:
- grocery food prices increased 7.9 per cent
- restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices increased 7.7 per cent
- non-alcoholic beverages prices increased 5.7 per cent
- meat, poultry, and fish prices increased 3.3 per cent
- fruit and vegetables prices increased 3.3 per cent.
“The largest contributing food group was grocery food, mainly driven by higher prices for fresh eggs, potato crisps, and yoghurt,” consumer prices manager James Mitchell said.
“Prices fell across the board in October, with only dining out and takeaway food being more expensive than in September,” Mitchell said.
The monthly food prices were released as part of Stats NZ’s new Selected Price Indexes series.
The new series will provide more timely inflation data than the full Consumer Price Index which is produced every three months.
It adds petrol, travel and alcohol to food and rent pricing data which is already produced monthly.
The combined Selected Price Index series will mean we get price changes each month for around 45 per cent of New Zealand household spending.
The new data showed petrol prices also fell in October 2023 compared with September 2023 - down 1.1 per cent
Domestic air transport prices fell 9.4 per cent and international air transport prices fell 7.5 per cent. However, diesel prices rose 1.6 per cent.
Rental prices also rose slightly month on month.
Annual inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index was 5.6 per cent in the year to September 30.