Vege prices fall heading into summer

A seasonal fall in vegetable prices was the main driver behind an overall drop in food prices in November.

Tomatoes and strawberries were 18 percent and 5 percent cheaper, respectively, in November 2018 than they were a year ago, said Stats NZ.

Tomatoes cost an average of $3.56 a kilo in November 2018, compared with $4.32 a kilo in November 2017.  

Poor weather in 2017 affected the supply and price of many crops.

Food prices fell 0.6 percent in November 2018 compared with October 2018, mainly driven by seasonal falls in vegetable prices.

"Now is a really good time to buy tomatoes, as well as broccoli and lettuce," consumer prices manager Geraldine Duoba said.  

"Prices for these vegetables tend to stay low as we head into summer," she said.

Tomato prices fell nearly 50 percent in November, about normal for this time of year.

Strawberry prices fell 33 percent between October and November, the biggest monthly fall in four years.  

In November 2018 strawberry prices were an average of $15.68 a kilo, or just under $4 for a standard 250g punnet.

Banana prices rose 17 percent over the month due to a delayed shipment, which reduced supply and pushed prices up.

"Bananas are a consistently cheap, versatile fruit that's available all year round."

"This makes them New Zealand's most popular fruit, making up about 17 percent of all spending on fruit."

The average price of bananas was $3.34 a kilo in November, still lower than their record high price of $3.51 a kilo in August 2016, when there was also a banana shortage.

Meat prices eased slightly in November after large rises in September and October. Poultry prices fell 3.7 percent, partly offset by rises in the price of beef and pork.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, food prices fell 0.2 percent in November 2018. Over the year, food prices increased 0.4 percent.