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Tomatoes and cucumbers drive up April food prices

Rising prices for tomatoes and cucumbers were the main contributors to a 1.1 percent rise in food prices in April 2021, Stats NZ said. Fruit and vegetable prices rose 4.8 percent in April 2021.

Tomato prices rose to a weighted average price of $6.34 per kilo, more than double the March month when they were $2.98 per kilo. This was the biggest monthly price rise in over 10 years.

“Tomato prices have been particularly low over the last three months. Tomatoes NZ confirmed there was an oversupply in the domestic market as growers struggled to get their tomatoes exported due to a shortage of freight and a rising cost of shipping resulting from COVID-19,” consumer prices manager Katrina Dewbery said.

“Tomato growers are facing a lot of uncertainty regarding exports, influencing their plan for replanting tomato crops,” Mrs. Dewbery said. Tomato prices in April increased 67 percent from a weighted average price of $3.80 per kilo a year ago.

In August 2020, tomatoes reached a high-weighted average price of $13.65 per kilo when there was a shortage due to COVID-19.

Click to enlarge image

Cucumber prices rose 50 percent in April, also contributing to the rise in food prices. The weighted average price in April 2021 was $12.41 per kilo compared with $8.25 per kilo in March.

These rising prices were partly offset by lower prices for kiwifruit, down 28 percent in April 2021.

“Kiwifruit is a highly seasonal fruit whose price usually peaks around March towards the end of its season. The weighted average price of kiwifruit was $6.01 per kilo in April, dropped from $8.39 per kilo in March.”

Impact of minimum wage rise
The minimum wage increased $1.10 from $18.90 to $20.00 per hour on April 1. This was reflected in higher prices for restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food, which rose 1.2 percent for the month.

“This was the biggest monthly increase in more than 10 years. The last time prices for restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food rose by more than 1 percent was following the increase in GST to 15 percent in October 2010, when there was a 1.9 percent increase,” Mrs. Dewbery said.

Annual food prices increase 0.7 percent
Annual food prices increased 0.7 percent in April 2021. This was influenced by higher prices for tomatoes and cucumbers and partly offset by lower prices for coffee and potatoes.

Annual potato prices decreased 9.2 percent. The weighted average price dropped to $2.28 per kilo from an all-time high of $2.51 per kilo in April 2020 during the level 4 COVID-19 lockdown.

For more information:
Katrina Dewbery
Stats NZ
Tel: +64 4 931 4841

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