Pumpkin and kumara prices at record level

Pumpkin prices increased 176 percent in the year to November 2017, to reach $5.78 a kilo, the highest price since the food price series began in December 1993, Stats NZ said today. Pumpkin and kumara are typically more expensive in November, but both hit record levels after larger-than-usual increases this year.

“Poor growing conditions due to the wet weather early this year had a huge impact on the supply of pumpkin and kumara,” consumer prices manager said. “Pumpkin prices have reflected lower supply, with dramatic price increases in the last three months, while kumara prices increased more steadily through the year.”

Kumara prices increased 83 percent in the year to November 2017, to reach a record of $8.99 a kilo. Kumara was $4.92 a kilo in November 2016. Potatoes, also a big contributor to the 6.3 percent increase in vegetable prices, increased 19 percent in the past year.

Higher vegetable prices, along with a 2.3 percent increase for ready-to-eat food (primarily biscuits, cakes, and hot drinks) and a 6.8 percent increase for fruit, pushed food prices up 2.3 percent in the year to November 2017.

Tomatoes and strawberries cheaper in November

Fruit and vegetable prices fell 2.6 percent in November, the main contributor in an overall 0.4 percent fall in food prices. However, after seasonal adjustment, fruit and vegetable prices rose 1.2 percent.

With summer approaching, tomatoes and strawberries had big price falls (down 44 percent and 22 percent, respectively), making them the largest contributors to the overall fall in food prices this month.

The average price for tomatoes was $4.32 a kilo in November, down from $7.68 in October 2017.

“Although tomato prices dropped considerably this month, they’re still at a much higher level than in November 2016 after seeing an annual increase of 27 percent,” Mr Haigh said.

Butter reached another record high, rising 1.3 percent in November. The average price of the cheapest available 500g block of butter was $5.74 in November 2017, up from $5.67 in October 2017 and $3.88 in November 2016.

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