Fruit and vegetable prices increased almost 9 percent in the year ended December 2020, boosting overall food price inflation to 2.9 percent, Stats NZ said today.
“In 2020 prices have been high for a variety of crops, including potatoes, courgettes and tomatoes, at different times of the year and for different reasons,” consumer prices manager Katrina Dewbery said.
As a result of higher fruit and vegetable prices, overall food prices have been trending higher than the most recent consumers price index (CPI) inflation of 1.4 percent in the year ended September 2020, with December figures due to be released on 22 January 2021.
“Food prices often vary from headline inflation as they can be influenced differently by factors such as growing conditions, international trade, and labour costs,” Mrs Dewbery said.
Influencing the increase in food prices over the year were higher prices for:
- fruit and vegetables, up 8.9 percent
- restaurant meals and ready-to-eat foods, up 3.8 percent
- grocery foods, up 1.8 percent
- non-alcoholic drinks, up 1.7 percent.
These were slightly offset by meat, poultry, and fish prices, down 0.7 percent.
Food prices in 2020
2020 was an eventful year with many significant food price movements.
In April, potatoes reached an all-time high price of $2.51 per kilo while New Zealand was in COVID-19 national lockdown. It was mainly caused by a shortage of labour and an increase in demand from supermarkets. See Potato prices reach all-time high in April for more information.
In July, courgette prices skyrocketed to a record high price of $29.60 per kilo as imports from Queensland were suspended due to a virus impacting all fresh cucurbit. See Vegetable prices continue to grow for more information.
In August, tomatoes hit an all-time high price of $13.65 per kilo as uncertainty for growers about replanting crops during lockdown caused a shortage. See Tomato shortage follows lockdown for more information.
In November, strawberry prices were cheaper than usual as exports decreased leaving more produce available in New Zealand. See Strawberry prices squished as exports drop for more information.
Kiwifruit prices reach record high in December
Food prices were up 0.1 percent in December 2020 compared with November 2020.
Food prices overall were relatively unchanged, despite kiwifruit prices rising 19 percent to an all-time high of $8.46 per kilo in December 2020. This was slightly up from the previous high of $8.27 in December 2019.
Kiwifruit is typically more expensive in December as less of the fruit is available domestically after the harvest ends in May and more is imported.
“Increased air freight costs due to COVID-19 border restrictions could be influencing the price rise as more kiwifruit is imported between November and February,” Mrs Dewbery said.
Food prices in December were influenced by a typical seasonal price rise for apples (up 10 percent from November) and potatoes (up 6.7 percent). These were partly offset by seasonal price falls for tomatoes (down 17 percent) and nectarines (down 20 percent). These movements are consistent with price patterns during summer.
The prices of instant coffee and beef porterhouse steak were also down for the month.