Food prices in New Zealand fell 0.5 percent on month in February, Statistics New Zealand said on Tuesday, following the 0.6 percent drop in January.
Beef prices fell 4.4 percent, while chicken prices fell 3.4 percent. The average price for cheapest available chicken breast was NZ$12.83 a kilo, down from NZ$13.94 the previous month.
Grocery food prices also fell in February, down 0.7 percent, with lower prices for chocolate.
Fruit and vegetable prices fell 0.9 percent in the month, with no overall change after seasonal adjustment.
“Apples, pumpkin, and kumara are coming down after months of high prices,” consumer prices manager Geoffrey Wong said.
Prices for fruit and vegetables fell 4.4 percent on year to February. The decrease in fruit and vegetable prices offset increases in all other food groups, with an overall annual increase in food prices of just 0.1 percent.
“It was around this time last year that we were seeing the effects of a poor summer season,” Wong said.
Vegetable prices decreased 4.7 percent in the year, with lower prices for tomatoes, carrots, and onions. Carrot prices were at their highest-ever level in February last year.
Apples were the leading contributor to the annual decrease in fruit prices, down an annual 27 percent.
Partly offsetting these decreases was a 2.5 percent increase in restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food.
Despite the falls in fruit and vegetable prices this month, some vegetables, such as lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower, had large price rises. Lettuce prices rose 32 percent in the month to February 2018, the largest monthly rise for a February since 2013.
“In recent weeks, a combination of humid weather and cyclone Gita have affected some crops,” Wong said. “As this occurred towards the end of February, we may continue to see higher prices in March.”