Food prices lifted on the year in December as a tumble in fruit and vegetable prices was offset by increases in other products like eggs.

Food prices increased 1.0 per cent on the year in December, Stats NZ said. Fruit and vegetable prices were down 6.1 per cent as more favorable growing conditions boosted supply and lowered prices.

"Overall, getting your five-plus (5+) a day servings of fruit and vegetables was cheaper in 2018," consumer prices manager Geraldine Duoba said.

Prices of kumara and pumpkins reached record highs in late 2017. These vegetables were 39 and 51 per cent cheaper, respectively, in December than they were a year earlier.


Lettuces were 21 per cent cheaper than in December 2017 and avocado prices were 26 per cent lower in December than a year earlier.

Meat, poultry and fish prices, however, increased 3.8 per cent. Grocery food prices increased 1.4 per cent while restaurant and ready-to-eat food prices increased 2.9 per cent. According to Stats NZ, the price of eggs reached a record high, with prices up 10 per cent on the year.

"Egg industry reports suggest the average New Zealander eats more than 200 eggs a year, with retail sales worth more than $280 million," said Duoba.

Food prices fell 0.2 per cent from November but after seasonal adjustment they rose 0.5 per cent, Stats NZ said.

Fruit and vegetable prices fell 1.1 per cent on the month, while meat, poultry and fish prices rose 0.2 per cent. Grocery food prices, meanwhile, were up 0.1 per cent while restaurant and read-to-eat food prices rose 0.2 per cent.

The food price index accounts for about 19 per cent of the consumers price index, which is the Reserve Bank's mandated inflation target when setting interest rates.