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Food Price Index: March 2015
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  15 April 2015
Commentary

Monthly food prices rise 0.1 percent

Food prices rose 0.1 percent overall in March 2015, following a fall of 0.7 percent in February 2015, and a rise of 1.3 percent in January 2015.

Grocery food prices rose 1.2 percent, influenced by higher prices for cakes and biscuits, yoghurt, and sauces. The price of cakes and biscuits was influenced by less discounting on biscuits. Yoghurt and sauces (such as mayonnaise and tomato sauce) were also influenced by less discounting. Prices for chocolate also rose.

Fruit and vegetable prices fell 3.1 percent, influenced by seasonally lower prices for vegetables (down 3.5 percent) and fruit (down 2.6 percent). Apple prices continued to fall in March, with an increasing supply of new season apples. The average price of $2.48 per kilo in March was down from $3.67 per kilo in February and $4.77 per kilo in January, and compares with $2.31 per kilo in March 2014. The price of potatoes also fell. Higher prices for strawberries and tomatoes partly offset falls in other fruit and vegetable prices.

The following graph shows the index points contribution to the food price index (FPI) of items that rose or fell in price for each month.

 Graph, index points contribution to FPI, items that rose or fell in price, March 2014 to March 2015.

Annual food prices increase 1.9 percent

In the year to March 2015, food prices increased 1.9 percent, following a 1.5 percent increase in the year to February 2015. This is the largest annual increase since December 2011.

Vegetable prices increased 7.2 percent in the year. Higher prices for lettuce, potatoes, and carrots were partly offset by lower prices for tomatoes. Fruit prices increased 7.8 percent, reflecting higher prices for bananas and strawberries. Banana prices are now at their highest level since the series began. 

Prices for meat and poultry increased 2.7 percent in the year, with higher prices for beef (up 8.0 percent).

Grocery food prices increased 0.5 percent in the year to March, influenced by higher prices for cakes and biscuits (up 7.2 percent), fresh milk (up 2.4 percent), and yoghurt (up 7.8 percent). These increases were partly offset by lower prices for bread, butter, and cheese. Supermarkets discounting some own-brand bread to about $1.00 from the second half of last year contributed to lower bread prices.

 

Longer-term retail picture for dairy, meat, and cereal prices

Milk, cheese, and egg prices increased 1.6 percent in the year to March 2015. Fresh milk prices increased 2.4 percent in the year, but were still 2.2 percent below their peak in November 2014. Butter prices fell 16 percent in the year and are now 28 percent below their recent peak in June 2014. Cheese prices fell 4.0 percent and are now 11 percent below their recent peak in June 2014.

Meat and poultry prices increased 2.7 percent in the year to March 2015. Beef prices increased 8.0 percent in the year, but were down 0.3 percent from their peak in January. Chicken prices decreased 2.4 percent in the year, to be 6.0 percent below their peak in December 2014.

Bread and cereal prices decreased 0.6 percent in the year to March 2015, influenced by an 11 percent fall in bread prices.

For more detailed data from the FPI, see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

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