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13 April 2022

Cost of food reaches record high

New Zealanders face the highest prices in more than a decade.

Statistics NZ released a report on 13 April, announcing what none of us wanted to hear: The price of food has had its biggest annual increase in more than 10 years.

Food prices were 7.6% higher in March 2022 compared with March 2021.

This is the largest annual increase since 2011, which at the time was partly influenced by a GST rate rise.

Stats NZ measures the price of food across a range of categories, from grocery items to restaurant meals. There were notable increases across all categories measured:

  • grocery food prices increased 6.7%

  • fruit and vegetable prices increased 18%

  • restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices increased 5.1%

  • meat, poultry and fish prices increased 8.7%

  • non-alcoholic beverage prices increased 2.7%.

Cost of food

New Zealand families struggle to keep up

In March, Consumer NZ surveyed more than 1000 people about how the price of groceries is affecting them. Almost all (98%) said they were worried about the cost of groceries in New Zealand and were making changes to their weekly shop as a result. More than four in five (84%) have removed items from their usual weekly shop because of cost.

Natalie, 35, from Auckland said: “I've really noticed over the past few months that our usual budget has been very difficult to stick to and, frankly, it's hardly enough to cover the basics.”

Kara (not her real name), 27, from Kaitāia, lives with her partner and two kids. She shared that the increasing prices have meant she’s had to reduce her own meal sizes, to ensure that both her kids don’t go without.

Campaigning for a fairer system

Consumer has been calling for change in the grocery sector, including a mandatory code of conduct, a supermarket commissioner, a ban on restrictive land covenants and mandatory unit pricing – all of which the Commerce Commission has recommended in its final report, which was released last month.

The report confirmed consumers aren’t getting a fair deal and recommends changes to bring about more competition in the sector. But the report hasn’t recommended regulation of supermarket price displays, promotions and loyalty schemes and there is nothing that will require supermarkets to supply other retailers with groceries at competitive wholesale prices.

Instead, the recommendations rely on supermarkets voluntarily changing their pricing and loyalty scheme practices, and to only consider requests for wholesale supply from other retailers in good faith.

Stay up to date with Consumer’s campaign to fix the supermarket industry.

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