Food prices are 4.8% higher than a year ago but were cheaper last month compared to November, Stats NZ said today.

This marks the fourth consecutive monthly fall, with food prices 0.1% lower in December compared with November.

Stats NZ consumer prices manager James Mitchell said the largest contribution to the annual change was restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food, which saw a price increase of 7.1%.

Mitchell said this contribution was mainly driven by “higher prices for dine-in meals and takeaways”.

This was followed by grocery food prices (5.4% annual increase) and non-alcoholic beverage prices (5.5% annual increase).

But beverage prices have been dropping more recently.

“The biggest contributor to this [monthly] fall was non-alcoholic beverages, driven by prices for fizzy drinks and energy drinks. Other items that have contributed to the monthly fall include tomatoes, nectarines, and lamb,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said price movements in the past few months are “comparable to what we saw prior to 2020”.

He said all items in the alcoholic beverage category saw a fall in price, which includes wine, beer, spirits, and liqueurs.