Fruit has become cheaper and vegetables more expensive, according to Statistics New Zealand's latest food index.

Fruit prices fell 5.2 per cent last month, lead by cheaper avocados and strawberries, contributing to a 0.2 per cent fall in overall food prices.

Avocado prices fell 29 per cent in July, coming off a near-record high in June, and strawberry prices fell 23 per cent. The average price for a 250g punnet of strawberries was $5.92 in July, compared with $7.71 in June.

Statistics New Zealand consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said strawberries were "unseasonably cheap" for this time of year.


"They typically reach their lowest price in December, but are dropping in price due to more imports from Australia," Haigh said.

Data shows a 58 per cent increase in the quantity of strawberries imported in June compared with June last year.

In contrast, vegetable prices rose 1.6 per cent last month, driven by higher prices for cucumbers and tomatoes, and by 12 per cent in the year to July.

Kumara rose 2.6 per cent for the month and 170 per cent for the year to reach a new record high price of $8.39/kg.

The price of restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food were up 2.2 per cent in the year to July, led by a 2.5 per cent increase in restaurant meals, the largest annual increase since October 2013.

The 12 per cent increase in vegetable prices for the year to July was the main contributor to a 3 per cent annual increase in food prices.

Grocery food prices rose 3.1 per cent in the past year, led by higher prices for dairy products.