Cost of living: Food prices rise by 1.2 percent in June, Statistics NZ says

New Zealand food prices rose again in June and costs remain well up on this time last year, Statistics NZ said on Wednesday.

Stats NZ's food price index was 1.2 percent higher (0.8 pct after seasonal adjustment) last month than in May.

The May figure showed 0.7 percent month-on-month growth.

As well as the monthly increase, the June index was 6.6 percent higher than a year earlier.

Food prices have been pushing up throughout this year, partly driven by the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

Broken down by categories, grocery food prices grew by 7.6 percent year on year, the latest figures show. There was also significant yearly increases in meat, poultry and fish (up 6.8 pct), restaurant meals (6.3 pct), fruit and vegetables (5.5 pct) and non-alcoholic beverages (4.8 pct).

Stats NZ said grocery food remained the largest contributor to the overall price increases.

"Increasing prices for milk, potato crisps and yoghurt were the largest contributors within grocery food," Stats NZ consumer prices manager Fiona Smillie said.

While the data also showed a 4.9 percent month-on-month increase for food and vege prices, this dropped to 0.7 percent growth after seasonal adjustment.

"The vegetables that are most influencing this increase are tomatoes, cucumbers and green beans," Smillie said. "Whilst cucumbers and green beans have both reached their highest recent June prices, tomatoes have bucked that trend and fallen 30 percent in June 2022 compared with June 2021."

Analysis shows New Zealanders have on average spent an extra $4000-$5000 in the past 12 months on basics including food, rent and fuel.

Infometrics principal economist Brad Olsen earlier said he expected New Zealand households to be hit even harder by growing food prices.

"We're seeing that across the world as well… from various agencies showing the pressure that, globally, food prices are having on households," Olsen told AM early.

He said the latest food price index data would likely show "further pressure".

A fruit and vegetable stand at a local market
Photo credit: Getty Images

Prices for new rentals back up in June - figures

In its separate rental price index, Stats NZ said prices for new rentals, or "flow" rental properties, were up 5.1 percent year-on-year and increased 0.4 percent compared to May.

That month-on-month increase came after prices fell by 0.8 percent in May versus April.

Prices for all rentals, or "stock" rental properties, were up 4 percent year-on-year and also increased by 0.8 percent month-on-month - after a 0.3 percent fall in May.

The latest consumer price index figures released in April showed rising prices for rentals was one of the main drivers of New Zealand's 6.9 percent annual inflation.

But there were early signs the rental market was changing. Rental prices in Wellington, for example, have fallen month-on-month by 2 percent, Trade Me data shows.

Trade Me's own rental price index showed the median weekly rent in Auckland was $600 for a second consecutive month in May.

The national median rent was $575 - down 1 percent month-on-month, Trade Me said.

Still, compared to this time last year, renters were coughing up 7 percent more per week.