Food prices rise at slowest rate in months thanks to bad weather

New Zealand food prices have increased at a 0.8 per cent annual pace in January as dairy prices rose after unfavourable weather dented production.

That was the smallest annual increase since April 2017 when prices advanced 0.2 per cent, Statistics New Zealand said.

"Some dairy products and produce items were affected by adverse conditions during winter and spring," Stats NZ consumer prices manager Geoffrey Wong said.

"This has contributed to higher prices over the past nine months."

Butter prices surged 43 per cent in the year to January, reaching their highest-ever level.

The average price for the cheapest available 500g block of butter was $5.78 in January 2018, compared with $4.06 in January 2017, Stats NZ said.

Meanwhile, avocado and pumpkin prices more than doubled over the year. Avocados were at their highest price for a January month since 2004, with the average price of a 200g avocado $2.78 in January 2018, compared with $1.29 in January 2017.

"These higher annual prices for avocado and pumpkin were partly offset by lower prices for apples, tomatoes, and carrots," Mr Wong said.

Compared with the previous month, January food prices were up 1.2 per cent with all five subgroups notching up increases from December, Stats NZ said.

After seasonal adjustment, monthly food prices slipped 0.6 per cent.

Grocery food was the highest upwards contributor, rising 1.4 per cent, led by higher prices for bread, up 4 per cent, and chocolate, up 11 per cent.

These rises were influenced by items coming off December specials, Stats NZ said.

Meat, poultry, and fish prices rose 2.4 per cent in January, to reach their highest level since January 2016. Beef prices were at their second-highest level since the series began.

The price for 1kg of beef mince was $14.32 in January 2018, compared with $13.47 in December 2017.

The food price index accounts for about 19 per cent of the consumers price index, which is the Reserve Bank's mandated inflation target when setting interest rates.

Unidentifiable shopping trolley Source: Breakfast



Auckland Airport talks up 'fair balance' in new $1.8 billion infrastructure spending programme

 Auckland International Airport has talked up the "fair balance" it struck in setting out a $1.8 billion infrastructure spending programme.

Chief executive Adrian Littlewood says it is probably the most significant since its original development in the 1960s.

The $1.8b investment in aeronautical infrastructure over the next five years came after a long period where airlines and the wider community were consulted on the airport's future needs and what its operations and pricing priorities should be, Mr Littlewood told shareholders at Thursday's annual meeting in Manukau.

Over that period the airport will cut the average annual international passenger charge by 1.7 per cent and hike the equivalent domestic fee by 0.8 per cent.

This would help fund three more contact gates for international aircraft, a new domestic jet terminal, expanded border processing area and public arrivals space, and upgrades to international check-in.

"It is a responsibility to our customers we treat with care, but we are also balancing many other expectations - including those of you, our shareholders, looking for a fair return on a major investment programme," Mr Littlewood said.

"We believe we have struck a fair balance in our investment and pricing decisions for the next five years."

The programme has already been criticised by the airlines' umbrella group - the Board of Airlines Representatives - as only benefiting airport shareholders, something Mr Littlewood has previously played down.

More recently the Commerce Commission said it will have a look under the hood of the proposed spending in its semi-regular investigation into how the airport sets its prices to ensure it isn't rorting customers.

Mr Littlewood said that in the next five years it will take "significant steps" toward opening a second runway with earthworks scheduled to start in 2020 or 2021.


Robert Patman outlined the impact on Kiwi travellers with extra airport screening to fly to the US.
Source: 1 NEWS


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Massive slip sees State Highway 11 closed for 'at least two weeks' in Bay of Islands

A massive slip will see State Highway 11, which links Paihia and Kawakawa, in the Bay of Islands closed for at least two weeks according to the NZ Transport Agency.

A slip, approximately 80 metres long, occurred yesterday, blocking the road just north of Kawakawa in the Lemons Hill area.

The Transport Agency says a detour via State Highway 10 will add an additional 10-20 mins to the journey between Paihia and Kawakawa.

The early assessment from engineers is that it could take at least two weeks of work to make the hillside safe enough to reopen the road to traffic, says the Transport Agency's System Manager Steve Mutton.

"A lot depends on the weather. It's fine right now, but there have been days of heavy rain and more is forecast next week. More rain could potentially see the slip start to move again.

"We have started initial work on the slip and we must ensure the safety of our crews. Our engineers will be using a drone to help survey the extent of the slip," Mr Mutton says.

All other State Highways in Northland are open and crews are out checking roads for potholes and other road damage caused by surface flooding in recent days.

A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle
A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle. Source: 1 NEWS