Tomato prices fell by 49 percent in November, putting them among the vegetables offering better value for shoppers heading into the summer season.
Released on Tuesday, the Statistics New Zealand Food Price Index, which measures changes in food prices, shows food prices dipped 0.6 percent in November, led by tomato price falls.
Tomato prices fell by 49 percent, from an average weighted price of $12.04 in October, to $6.16 per kg in November, Statistics New Zealand said.
Along with tomatoes, there were also price falls for broccoli, strawberries and potatoes.
But prices for apples, kiwifruit and carrots went up, along with grocery foods (up 0.7 percent) and non-alcoholic drinks (up 1.6 percent), offsetting price falls.
On an annual basis, food prices rose 4 percent, meaning shoppers were paying 4 percent more than in November last year.
Statistics New Zealand consumer prices manager Katrina Dewbery said although tomato prices dropped 49 percent, they were still 54 percent higher than a year ago, when the average weighted price was $3.99 per kg.
After applying seasonal adjustments to fruit, vegetables and grocery foods, Statistics New Zealand data showed a 0.3 percent price rise in November, indicating price falls were less than in previous years.
Talking to Newshub about tomato prices, United Fresh president Jerry Prendergast confirmed that this year tomato growers hadn't planted as many crops for export.
This means tomato prices aren't as low as last year. On Tuesday, the Pak'nSave website shows the retail price for fresh loose red tomatoes is $5.99 per kg ($6.49 per kg at Countdown).
"I don't think we're going to see 'in the gutter' prices we saw last season," Prendergast said.
Through December, shoppers could expect to see tomato prices get down to around $4 per kg, on special.
In addition to tomatoes, shoppers looking for more cost-effective fare for Christmas dishes could consider kumara and gourmet potatoes.
"The kumara crop has been plentiful all year...we've seen good prices all the way through and those prices will now hold till the new season in late January/early February," Prendergast said.
Small 1.5 kg boxes of gourmet potato ranges (e.g. golden gourmet) could be purchased from $3 to $5 and used in potato salads, offering "good buying for the kitchen table", he added.