Food prices fell in September by 0.4 per cent.
After seasonal adjustment, those prices rose 0.1 per cent.
That’s still a dramatic change from months of mostly-punishing price increases this year.
Stats NZ released the latest food price index this morning.
In September, compared with August, fruit and vegetables prices fell 3.9 per cent, and fell 0.9 per cent after seasonal adjustment.
Meat, poultry, and fish prices were unchanged, and grocery food prices overall were also unchanged.
Non-alcoholic beverage prices rose 1.0 per cent, Stats NZ said.
Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices rose 0.3 per cent.
The September stats are a far cry from most previous months this year.
But they still have not made much of a dent in the year-on-year stats.
Food prices increased 8.0 per cent in the year ending September 30.
Year-on-year, fruit and vegetables prices were up 1.4 per cent.
Meat, poultry, and fish prices took a bigger bite out of wallets, increasing 6.9 per cent over the year.
On a monthly basis, food prices rose 0.5 per cent in August 2023 compared with July 2023.
After adjusting for seasonal effects, they were up 0.4 per cent in August.
Today’s data follows a fruit and vegetable price increase of 5.4 per cent in August 2023, compared to one year earlier.
In the year to July 2023, those prices increased 6.2 per cent.
ASB economists said falling fruit and vegetable prices were driving the overall decline in food price inflation.
“What was also evident, however, is that the upward momentum in food prices looks to be stalling,” ASB economist Mark Smith said.
“It could be that increased consumer resistance and lower global food commodity prices are dampening pressures at the retail level.”
He said food price inflation should keep cooling down, but a difficult time was still ahead for Kiwi consumers.
A big fall for vegetable prices, down 5.7 per cent month-on-month, was especially significant, Smith said.
ASB said promotions associated with supermarket rebranding, such as Countdown’s shift to Woolworths, should continue to cap grocery food prices in months ahead.
But ASB said there was a risk of food price inflation not slowing as quickly as the Reserve Bank would like.
Smith said that could be a barrier to cutting the Official Cash Rate.