Takeaway food and tomato prices rose in April, but chicken was the cheapest it has been in over 10 years, according to new information from Statistics New Zealand. Overall, food prices remained steady (up 0.1 percent) in April. Higher prices for ready-to-eat and grocery foods were balanced by a drop for meat and many vegetables – except for tomatoes, which more than doubled in price in just two months. Ready-to-eat food rose 0.7 percent in April, with prices rising for ethnic food (up 1.6 percent), takeaway coffee (up 0.7 percent), and takeaway pizza (up 1.0 percent).

“Prices for restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food usually increase steadily over time; however, these items all rose more than usual in April,” said consumer prices manager Geraldine Duoba. “The minimum wage increase of 75 cents to $16.50 an hour on 1 April may have been a factor, as labour costs make up a significant proportion of these businesses’ costs.”

Vegetable prices fell 1.6 percent in April. Lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower all fell strongly, following high prices in March. After adjusting for seasonal movements, vegetables prices fell 5.1 percent.

“While vegetable prices fell in April, tomato prices continued to rise,” Duoba said. “Tomato prices rose 41 percent this month, following a more than 60 percent rise in March.”

Meat prices fell in April, with poultry prices falling 4.5 percent. For the year to April, prices for meat and poultry increased 1.0 percent. Pork and lamb prices increased strongly with pork up 12 percent and lamb up 17 percent. These increases were offset by cheaper poultry prices, which decreased 6.8 percent in the latest year. Beef prices remained flat annually.