14 Aug 2009

Food basics getting more expensive

2:19 pm on 14 August 2009

People are facing tough choices at the supermarket as the price of basics including bread and vegetables increases, a budget advice service says.

Statistics New Zealand figures released on Thursday shows that, overall, food prices rose by 0.6% from June to July this year. However, prices remain 8% higher than at this time last year.

The rise was driven by an increase in the cost of vegetables, which were 12% more expensive than July last year.

Government statistician Geoff Bascand says this increase is driven by cold weather hampering vegetable growth.

All five sub-groups of food are more expensive than this time last year.

There was also a very small rise in the price of non-alcoholic drinks, restaurant meals and ready to eat food.

Mr Bascand says the most significant drop was in the price of butter, which was down by 20%. Cheese was down by 16%.

Meat, fish and poultry dropped slightly in price.

Federation of Family Budgeting Services chief executive Raewyn Fox says families are struggling to buy the basics.

Ms Fox says as people try to make their food last the week they are replacing expensive items with options that might not have the same nutritional value.

Though the price of cheese and butter were lower they are still considered very expensive by many people, she says.

Turners and Growers managing director Jeff Wesley says tomato prices this year are still 25% down on two years ago. He expects the price of vegetables overall to decrease next month.