13 Jul 2011

Vege prices push up food cost

9:00 pm on 13 July 2011

Fruit and vegetable price increases due in part by supply shortages following the Queensland floods have pushed up the cost of food in June.

The food price index rose 1.4% for the month as the higher fruit and vegetable prices offset lower meat prices.

Fruit and vegetable prices went up 12.2% in June, led by tomatoes (up 56.9%), capsicums (43.7%), cucumber and lettuce, Statistics New Zealand figures show.

Statistics New Zealand prices manager Chris Pike said tomato and capsicum prices rose more than they usually do in June, reflecting a supply shortage caused by the January floods in Queensland.

On an annual basis, prices rose 7.5%, which Statistics New Zealand says also reflects last year's GST rise. In the year to June, vegetables rose 23.5%, while milk rose about nine 9.4%.

Meat, poultry and fish prices fell 3.2% from their peak in May.

Storms hit NZ winter vegetable harvest

Crop damage and harvesting delays caused by stormy weather is disrupting the supply of vegetables from the New Zealand's biggest growing area.

Heavy rainfall, strong winds and hail storms have battered winter crops and washed out some areas of cultivation in the Pukekohe-Franklin district south of Auckland.

Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association president Simon Watson says there have already been losses due to an unusually mild late autumn, and early winter conditions meant cold season crops like cabbage, cauliflower and lettuce did not develop properly.

Mr Watson says there has also been further damage from the storms, and boggy conditions have held up harvesting and cultivation.

He says this will result in a glut of produce on the market when it can be harvested.

However, Mr Watson warns there will also be times during winter when fruit and vegetables will be in very short supply, leading to some extreme prices such as $4 or $5 lettuces.