Meat and poultry drives July food prices up

It's bad news for chicken and lamb chop lovers.
It's bad news for chicken and lamb chop lovers. Photo credit: Getty

A rise in food prices in July was driven by meat and poultry prices, with lamb chops reaching a record high.

Stats NZ said overall, food prices rose 1.1 percent last month compared with June, with meat and poultry up 2.8 percent.

It said the higher prices for chicken, lamb, and beef had been partly offset by falling pork prices.

Chicken pieces were a big driver of the monthly price rise, up 7.0 percent. 

The weighted average price in July was $8.61 per kilogram compared to June ($8.05 per kilo). 

As well as being a big contributor to the monthly change, chicken pieces were up 8.8 percent annually. 

In July 2018, the weighted average price for chicken pieces was $7.91 per kilogram.

Lamb prices climbed from June, with lamb chop prices reaching an all-time high in July, up 1.7 percent. 

The weighted average price was $17.70 per kilogram compared with $17.41 in June and $16.33 a year ago.

Consumer prices manager Sarah Johnson said retail lamb prices rose in line with international commodity prices.

"There has been increased global demand for lamb and beef, following a shortage of pork in China due to African swine fever," she said.

Vegetable prices were another big driver of the rise in food prices, up 3.7 percent for the month, although  vegetable prices decreased 17 percent annually.

Tomatoes made the biggest contribution to the monthly movement, with a weighted average price of $6.59 per kilogram compared with $5.28 in June. Tomato prices normally rise at this time of year, but they are still cheaper than this time last year. 

In July 2018, tomatoes were $8.18 per kilo.

Lettuce was the biggest downward contributor to the annual movement, down 52 percent. The weighted average price for lettuce in July was $2.60 per 500-gram head, compared with the record high of $5.42 a year ago. 

However, lettuce still had a seasonal price rise in the month up 30 percent, from $1.99 per 500 grams in June 2019.

"Seasonal vegetables are still experiencing the usual price rise in July, although the increases are smaller than in the previous couple of years due to better weather conditions," said Johnson.