Grocery price crunch: Fruits and veggies lead to surge

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According to Stats NZ, food prices were up 7.4% year-on-year in July this year and fruit and vegetable prices were up 10%.

There were price increases in all food categories measured.

Groceries were up 7.5%. Restaurant and ready meals increased 6.6%. Meat, poultry and fish rose 7.7%.

Food was the largest contributor to annual movement, according to Stats NZ.

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“Rising prices for cheddar cheese, standard soda milk and yogurt were the biggest contributors to groceries,” said consumer pricing manager Fiona Smillie.

The second largest contributor to this movement was restaurant meals and ready meals. The items within this group that most influenced this movement were lunch/brunch meals and ethnic take-out (excluding Chinese take-out).

Tomatoes were a driver of the monthly gain.

ELLA BATES-HEMANS/stuff

Tomatoes were a driver of the monthly gain.

Compared to the previous month, prices increased by 2.1% in July. Adjusted for seasonal effects, this was an increase of 1.1%. Fruits and vegetables were the biggest driver of the monthly move, up a seasonally adjusted 3.1%.

Smillie said tomatoes, lettuce and broccoli were a particular contributor to this price increase.

Foodstuffs NZ chief executive Chris Quin said record inflation, which hit a 32-year high in the June quarter, was hurting customers.

Foodstuffs operates New World, Four Square and Pak’n Save.

He said half of his clients said they were just getting by or were struggling to make ends meet.

“Our customers are changing their shopping behavior in response to inflationary price pressure. Almost half say they save on non-essential items. One in three browses for the best offers, switches to cheaper brands and house brands or eats less.”

He said fruit and veg is always a key driver of overall grocery costs, especially during the winter months, but the cost of buying fruit and veg from Foodstuffs suppliers rose 16% in July.

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