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Thread: Food price rises slightly easier to swallow now

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    Default Food price rises slightly easier to swallow now

    Food price rises slightly easier to swallow now
    Page 1 of 2 .... 4:00AM Saturday Apr 18, 2009
    By Eloise Gibson

    Food prices are going up an eye-watering amount each month - but at least they are rising more slowly than they were late last year.

    Figures out yesterday show food made up more than half the cost-of-living increase in the year to March, despite food accounting for only about 17 per cent of household spending.

    Food cost 8.8 per cent more in the three months to March than it did in the same three months last year, the Statistics New Zealand figures show.

    At the same time the overall cost of living rose 3 per cent.

    ASB economist Nick Tuffley offered some comfort to shoppers, saying food price jumps should ease in the coming months.

    Prices for vegetables, which spiked after a spate of bad weather last year, were already easing in "fits and starts", he said.

    Beef and dairy products should also rise less, thanks to easing international prices and a slight rebound in the New Zealand dollar.

    Any relief is likely to be welcome to grocery buyers.

    Raewyn Fox of the Federation of Family Budgeting Services, whose agency has seen more families in the $60,000 to $80,000 earning bracket this year, said the continual price rises were squeezing working families, many of whom had had overtime cut or pay rises deferred.

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    Mother Bear

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    Household costs rocketing
    By JAMES WEIR - The Dominion Post
    Last updated 05:00 18/04/2009

    The cost of keeping the family fed is up almost 9 per cent in a year, about $15 a week extra, with big jumps for meat and fish, fruit and vegetables and groceries.

    A year ago, the average household spent almost $173 a week on food. Now it spends close to $188.

    Families are also being stung by higher charges from state-owned power companies, local government rates and higher university fees.

    On the other hand, car owners are better off, with a big fall in petrol and second-hand car prices.

    The global commodity price boom pushed food prices up early last year. Annual food prices were up more than 10 per cent in the September year.

    But the rate of increase has been easing back, hitting 8.6 per cent for the year to March, according to Statistics New Zealand.

    Meat, poultry and fish prices were up 12.6 per cent in the past year. Bread was up more than 13 per cent, and cakes and biscuits up more than 14 per cent.

    World wheat prices rocketed early last year, hit by a combination of drought, export restrictions, growing demand and investor speculation. With the global downturn, wheat prices are now down to levels of two years ago, but New Zealand bread prices have not followed them down.

    The big slump in world dairy prices pushed cheddar cheese down 7 per cent in March, and yoghurt down 5 per cent. Chocolate was down almost 6 per cent.

    Annual food price inflation is almost three times higher than the general rate of inflation, which is now at 3 per cent, according to Statistics New Zealand figures. Rising food prices accounted for about half the annual increase in inflation.

    The average wage rose about 4 per cent last year, up about $1900, leaving people marginally better off overall.

    Power companies ramped up electricity prices by more than twice the rate of inflation, up 7.5 per cent in the past year.

    Many of the big power companies are state-owned, including Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power and Genesis.

    Consumer groups criticised the state-owned companies last month for "creaming it" from customers. The average power customer is paying almost $130 a year more for their power than 12 months ago.

    Local government rates and charges were up almost 6 per cent in the past year, close to double the rate of inflation.

    University and higher education charges were also up 4.4 per cent.

    On the positive side, house rental costs rose just 2.1 per cent in past year less than the rate of inflation.

    As well as petrol prices, second-hand car prices are down an average of 4.5 per cent and international air fares have slumped as airlines offer more discounts during a slide in international tourism.

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