Cost of living: Annual food price index ticks up 10.7 in November, says Statistics NZ

Statistics NZ's food price index rose again in November, still being fuelled by soaring grocery costs.

The index was up 10.7 percent last month compared with November 2021, Stats NZ said on Tuesday.

"Increasing prices for cheddar cheese, yoghurt and standard two-litre milk were the largest drivers within grocery food," Stats NZ's James Mitchell said.

November's annual food price figure followed a 10.1 percent increase in October.

The latest index was now nearly 4 percent higher than annual consumer inflation (7.2 percent).

Broken down by food categories, the biggest annual price increase was fruit and vegetables (up 20 percent) followed by meat, poultry and fish (12 pct) and grocery food (10 pct). 

Restaurant meals also saw an increase of 8 percent year on year.

Stats NZ's monthly food price growth figure was unchanged at 1 percent.

Higher than usual readings for fruit and veges for this time of year were contributing to soaring prices, Stats NZ said, with costs rising 0.9 percent month on month after seasonal adjustment.

"It's typical to see food prices fall in November due to falling fruit and vegetable prices," Mitchell said. "However, fruit and vegetable prices did not fall as much as in a typical November."

But there were some notable price drops for fruit and veges in November, with broccoli down 44 percent, tomatoes 42 percent and strawberries 35 percent compared with October.

With New Zealand expected to slide into a recession next year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Government was soon set to announce whether it would extend cuts to fuel excise duty, road user charges (RUC) and public transport fares before the end of the year to help ease some of the cost pressures facing New Zealanders in 2023. The subsidies were due to end late next month.

The economy was likely to get worse before it gets better. The Reserve Bank has predicted a downturn in 2023 and admitted to deliberately engineering it to get soaring inflation under control.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has vowed "to support New Zealanders, to help them stay in work, to be able to get through this period of time".