20 May 2020

Potato prices up 18 percent as food costs rise in April

3:04 pm on 20 May 2020

There's been a sharp rise in the price of potatoes

Fresh organic potatoes in the field

Photo: 123rf

Potato prices were up 18 percent in April to a weighted average price of $2.51 per kilo, an all-time peak, Stats NZ says.

Over the year, potato prices increased by 38 percent, the largest contributor to the annual rise in food prices.

Cheddar cheese rose 17 percent and the price of white bread was up 24 percent.

They, along with soft drinks, capsicums and fresh eggs drove the overall food price increase of 1.0 percent in April.

"Higher demand and a shortage of potato pickers, many of whom stayed home due to fear of the Covid-19 virus, could explain this large price increase," Stats NZ consumer prices manager Bryan Downes said.

Prices for fresh caged and barn eggs rose almost 7 percent to a record weighted average price of $4.78 per dozen.

A decade ago a single egg cost 28 cents and in April this year it reached 40 cents.

Free-range egg prices also rose, by 1.2 percent, to a weighted average price of $5.16 per half-dozen.

"Fresh egg prices have been on a gradual rise for the last two years as more New Zealand farmers shift from caged eggs to barned and free-range eggs," Downes said.

Food prices increased 4.4 percent to the year ended April 2020, the largest annual movement in over eight years.

This rise was influenced by higher prices for grocery food, which rose 4.2 percent, meat, poultry, and fish, up 6.2 percent, and non-alcoholic beverages up 4.7 percent.

Prices also increased for soft drinks (large bottles), and beef porterhouse/sirloin steak.

These were partly offset by lower prices for avocados, tomatoes, and lamb leg.