Cost of living: Which food items' prices have increased the most in the past year?

When you're heading out to stock your shelves it may not come as a shock that the price of food is continuing to go up.

But what items have climbed the most in the past year?

The latest data from Stats NZ earlier this week revealed annual food prices are continuing to soar, up 12.5 percent in June 2023 compared to June 2022. 

Stats NZ said climbing food prices are forcing some Kiwi consumers to opt for cheaper alternatives in order to keep their food bills lower. 

The data showed vegetables are up 23.3 percent, while meat, poultry and fish are up 11 percent, and grocery food prices like milk and cheese are up 12.8 percent in the last year. 

Stats NZ's consumer price index (CPI) was 6 percent in the 12 months to June, falling 0.7 percent - its lowest level since the end of 2021. 

But it's still high. 

Stats NZ's manager of consumer price delivery James Mitchell told Newshub while Aotearoa's inflation rate is easing prices are still rising.

"Numbers still indicate we are seeing prices rise."

But which items should you avoid to save the damage from your wallet?

According to Stats NZ's Food Price Index data from the monthly weighted price of products, several everyday food items are ticking up. 

There are three items that are leading the charge in soaring prices and those are kūmara, tomatoes and potatoes. 

Kūmara would be a carb-loaded staple in any Kiwi whare, or at least it use to be - Stats NZ's data shows the delicious vegetable has seen a 172 percent increase in price in the last year. 

The price of Kiwi stape kumara has shot up.
The price of Kiwi stape kumara has shot up. Photo credit: Getty Images

Cyclone Gabrielle wreaked havoc on kūmara crops earlier this year. Growers in Kaipara, north of Auckland, grow about 95 percent of Aotearoa's kūmara and were largely affected by Gabrielle. 

This meant kūmara went from $4.11 a kilogram in June 2022 to $11.18 in June 2023. 

Tomatoes. Whether you think they're a fruit or a vegetable, one thing is clear - they are expensive. 

Someone in the newsroom suggested earlier this week that maybe it's time to satisfy our tomato needs with cheap canned tomatoes, and maybe they're right. 

Data shows tomatoes are up 94 percent in the last year as the price of the juicy red fruit soared.

Stats NZ data shows the price of tomatoes increased from $7.92 per kilogram in June 2022, to $15.14 per kilogram in June 2023. 

The price of tomatoes has left many shoppers seeing red.
The price of tomatoes has left many shoppers seeing red. Photo credit: Getty Images

And according to one grower Newshub spoke with, the climbing prices are partly because "they're bloody hard to grow in winter".

Anthony Tringham from Curious Croppers said they're especially hard to grow without sun, which Aotearoa hasn't seen much of in the past year.

While Stats NZ is saying tomatoes are a big contributor to growing food prices, Mitchell told Newshub it "doesn't account for people changing to cheaper products as a result of them going up in price".

"So people's individual spending patterns aren't necessarily going to match."

Potatoes are a vegetable that's hard not to throw in the basket, but the price might just make you think twice.

Mitchell told Newshub potatoes climbed 30 percent in the last year. The price of potatoes climbed from about $2.57 per kilogram in June 2022 to about $3.35 per kilogram in June 2023. 

Grocery food prices increased 12.8 percent in the last year to June, and Mitchell said the climb was driven by products like eggs, yogurt and cheese. 

"Increasing prices for fresh eggs, six-pack yoghurt, and cheddar cheese were the largest drivers within grocery food."

Eggs have been one of the main contributors to rising food prices.
Eggs have been one of the main contributors to rising food prices. Photo credit: Getty Images

Despite it feeling like a constant increase when looking at the price of food, there are products that have seen a drop. 

Green beans are down about 36 percent. Last month green beans cost $16.77 per kilogram - compared to an expensive $26.40 per kilogram in June last year. 

Keeping with the green theme, cucumbers were down about 15 percent. Stats NZ data shows cucumbers cost $17.49 per kilogram last month, compared to $20.55 in June 2022. 

The price of courgettes joined the downward trend, down about 18 percent. The vegetable, known for its fluctuating prices, dropped from $17.07 a kilogram in 2022 to $13.91 last month.