New Zealand food prices increased 0.5% in May 2006, Statistics New Zealand said this week. Price increases were recorded for the fruit and vegetables and restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food subgroups. The grocery food, soft drinks and confectionery subgroup recorded no overall change, while prices for the meat, fish and poultry subgroup decreased in May.

The fruit and vegetables subgroup was the most significant factor in the rise in monthly food prices, increasing 4.3% in May. This movement was due to a large increase in prices for fresh vegetables (up 10.7%), though this was partly offset by a 2.5% decrease in prices for fresh fruit.

This is the largest increase in prices for fresh vegetables since an 11% increase in July 2002. The main contributions to this increase came from higher prices for tomatoes (up 37%) and lettuce (up 39.7%).

Although fresh fruit prices fell, with lower prices for bananas (down 12.6%) and citrus fruit (down 13.9%) the major contributors, apple prices rose significantly, recording a 16.7% increase.

For the year to May 2006, food prices increased 1.8%. Prices increased for the grocery food, soft drinks and confectionery (up 1.3 %); restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food (up 2.8 %); meat, fish and poultry (up 1.4 %); and fruit and vegetables (up 2.0 %) subgroups.