Annual food prices have increased by the highest amount in over a decade, Stats NZ announced on Monday, with a 5.9 per cent increase from January 2021 to January 2022.
The last time an annual increase saw a similar jump was in 2011, with an increase of 6.6 per cent.
Fruit and vegetable prices were 15 per cent higher in January 2022 than the previous January, with one fruit the biggest culprit – tomatoes.
Consumer prices manager Katrina Dewbery said the average price for 1kg of tomatoes was $7.29.
“This compares with $2.94 in January 2021 and $3.35 in January 2020.”
But tomatoes weren’t the only fruit price on the rise, with higher prices for broccoli and lettuce. This was partly offset by cheaper prices for kumara, kiwifruit, and avocado.
Monthly food prices rose, too, with a 2.7 per cent increase for January.
This was the biggest monthly rise since January 2017, when monthly food prices rose 2.8 per cent. However, Dewbery said this was not uncommon for the first month of the year.
“Food prices often increase in January. However, prices increased by more than usual this January.”
National’s finance spokesperson Simon Bridges criticised the Government for its incoming one-off spending boost at Budget 2022, which would see about $6 billion going into health and climate change.
“The Government should listen and bring its spending under control so that New Zealanders don’t keep falling further and further behind,” Bridges said.
“Kiwis are having to fork out even more just to put food on the table. With pay packets failing to keep up, many New Zealanders will be dreading the grocery shopping.”
Bridges’ criticism followed a 5.9 per cent inflation rate for the December 2020 quarter to the December 2021 quarter – the largest increase in three decades.
Speaking to Q+A on Sunday, Finance Minister Grant Robertson denied the Government’s spending was responsible for soaring inflation.
In January 2021, monthly food prices rose 1.3 per cent, and in January 2020 they rose 2.1 per cent, both before removing the impact of seasonality.
In January 2022, higher fruit and vegetable prices were the main contributor to the monthly rise, up 9.9 per cent.
At a more aggregated level, there were higher prices for all food groupings in January.
Meat, poultry, and fish prices rose 3.6 per cent, while grocery foods prices rose 1.6 per cent.
Non-alcoholic beverages prices jumped 2.3 per cent, while restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices increased by 0.3 per cent.
The widespread nature of the price rises was also shown by 76 per cent of all items increasing in price in January.