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Food prices rise 0.2% in July, led by kumara spike

BUSINESSDESK: New Zealand food prices rose last month, led by a spike in the price of kumara, while prices fell for the year, led by cheaper vegetables, dairy and lamb products.

The food price index rose 0.2%, in its third monthly increase this year, Statistics New Zealand said. Prices fell 1.8% compared to the same period a year earlier.

July's rise was led by a 4.4% hike in fruit and vegetables. That was led by an 84% increase in kumara prices to their highest level since February 2008, influenced by low prices in July 2011 and poor weather conditions for both planting and harvesting affecting this year's crop.

Non-alcoholic beverages also rose 0.1%, while restaurant meals and ready-to-go meals fell 0.1%, along with meat, poultry and fish prices down 0.2% and grocery food prices down 0.6%.

July's annual decline was led by a 6.6% decrease in fruit and vegetables, a 1.7% drop in grocery prices and a 1.6% decline in meat, fish and poultry products. Non-alcoholic drinks slipped 2.1%.

Restaurant meals and ready-to-go foods bucked the trend, rising 1.4% in the past year.