Christmas chicken cheapest in years

  • 15/01/2016
(3 News)
(3 News)

Food prices fell for a fifth consecutive month in December, with chicken being at its cheapest since 2008.

Lower prices for other meat and fish led the food price index lower, and prompted at least one local bank to revise down its forecast for next week's inflation data.

The index dropped 0.8 percent in December, extending its decline from a 0.2 percent fall in November, according to Statistics New Zealand. Prices fell 1.3 percent on an annual basis, the biggest yearly drop since July 2012.

Poultry prices fell 6.2 percent in December, driving a 2.7 percent fall across the meat, poultry and fish subgroup, and leading the index lower. The meat product prices fell 3.8 percent in the year.

ASB economist Jane Turner said in a note the reading was weaker than expected, and the bank has revised down its forecast for December quarter consumer inflation when it's released next week.

The food price index accounts for about a fifth of the CPI, and is a key component for forecasters when predicting how the broader inflation measure will track. New Zealand's annual CPI was running at a 0.4 percent pace in the September quarter, below the Reserve Bank's targeted 2 percent mid-point of the mandated 1-to-3 percent band.

Friday's data show grocery food prices fell 0.6 percent in December, its third month decline, and were down 3 percent in 2015. Milk prices fell another 0.2 percent in December, taking its annual decline to almost 14 percent. Still, cheese prices rose 6.1 percent in December, and were up 5.2 percent for the year.

Non-alcoholic beverages prices fell 3.4 percent in December, while prices for restaurant meals and read-to-eat food increased 0.3 percent in the month for a 2 percent rise in 2015. Fruit and vegetable prices rose 1.5 percent in December for a 2.4 percent annual increase.