New Zealand food prices fell in November, driven by a seasonal fall in fruit and vegetables. The biggest fall was strawberries, with prices tumbling 33 percent on the month and 5 percent compared to this time last year. 

Food prices fell 0.6 percent versus October and after seasonal adjustment were down 0.2 percent, Statistics New Zealand said. 

Fruit and vegetable prices fell 3.6 percent. While strawberry prices fell, banana prices rose 17 percent over the month due to a delayed shipment, which reduced supply and pushed up prices, Stats NZ said. 

“Bananas are a consistently cheap, versatile fruit that’s available all year round,” consumer prices manager Geraldine Duoba said.  “This makes them New Zealand’s most popular fruit, making up about 17 percent of all spending on fruit.”

Meat, poultry and fish prices were down 0.4 percent, largely due to a 3.7 percent fall in poultry prices. 

Grocery food prices were flat but non-alcoholic beverage prices fell 1.2 percent as prices for coffee, tea and other hot drinks eased. Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices, meanwhile, rose 0.2 percent. 

Over the year, food prices lifted 0.4 percent, weighed by a 6.7 percent fall in fruit and vegetable prices.  

Tomatoes and strawberries were 18 percent and 5 percent cheaper, respectively, in November 2018 than they were a year ago, Stats NZ said

“Now is a really good time to buy tomatoes, as well as broccoli and lettuce,” Duoba said.  “Prices for these vegetables tend to stay low as we head into summer.”

However, meat, poultry and fish prices lifted 3.2 percent. 

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

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