Cost of living: Renters more concerned about soaring food prices than paying rent, says Consumer NZ

The soaring food prices are now a bigger concern than paying for food for renters as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.

Stats NZ revealed on Monday, food prices had increased by 12 percent year-on-year - the highest since September 1989.

The index also showed fruit and vegetable prices rose 23.1 percent, grocery food prices rose 12.2 percent and meat, poultry, and fish prices rose 9.8 percent, when compared to February 2022.

Now, Consumer NZ head of research and advocacy Gemma Rasmussen said, for the first time, food worries outstrip housing. 

Highlighting how quickly the worries have flipped, in June 2021, food ranked as the eighth highest financial concern, with Kiwis more worried about education costs, personal debt and home maintenance outgoings than food.

Fast forward to 2023 and the number one financial concern is mortgage payments, followed by food and then rent, according to Consumer NZ. 

The consumer advocacy group has consistently called for major supermarkets to end "dodgy pricing, practices and promotions" amid the cost of living crisis. 

"At a bare minimum, shoppers need to be able to trust the prices they see at the supermarkets, so they can make informed choices," Rasmussen said.

"New Zealanders have been sending us examples of shelf pricing failing to match the price charged at the till, 'special' prices matching regular prices and multibuy offers which work out to be more expensive than purchasing items individually."

Rasmussen said Kiwi shoppers are looking for bargains, with Consumer NZ research showing people are more likely to buy a product if it's on sale. 

"Given the cost-of-living pressures that many households are experiencing, many people are doing their best to reduce costs - buying products they perceive to be special. This leaves shoppers vulnerable if the sales are not genuine."

A Commerce Commission market study into the grocery sector, which was released in March last year, found competition is "not working well for New Zealand consumers" with smaller retailers unable to compete effectively against the two main players - Foodstuffs and Woolworths (Countdown).

The study left it up to the supermarkets to take responsibility for ensuring pricing and promotional strategies are simple and easy to understand but Consumer NZ believes they're failing to do this.

"With colder months ahead, many households are bracing for higher energy costs as well as pricier food bills. Nearly half (45 percent) of households are planning to set aside more money for groceries as costs increase, compared to June 2021, when one in four households set aside additional funds," Rasmussen said.

Consumer NZ is urging Kiwis to report dodgy specials at the supermarket to them.  

"Please send evidence of them to"         

Rent prices have skyrocketed in the last six years going from $410 in September 2017 to $540 in the same month last year, according to Tenancy Services.