Food prices up but food bank quiet

PEOPLE might be paying more for food than they did two years ago, but the Kāpiti community food bank has not noticed a significant increase in demand.

Food price index figures just released by Statistics New Zealand show the price of food has risen 12% since this time in 2008.

Prices rose 2.1% last month, ending five consecutive monthly falls.

But despite people paying more for groceries so far this year, Kāpiti community food bank manager Hamish White says he had not seen a big increase in those requiring assistance.

They issued a 101 food parcels in January compared to 98 for the same period in 2009.

“As you can see, we are very similar to last year,” he says. “But it is probably too early in the year to start noticing trends.”

He is expecting a surge in the winter months, as the price of cheese, milk and bread tends to increase at that time of the year.

But he is confident they would be able to cope with the heavy demand after a “very good” appeal in November had replenished stocks.

All five food groups contributed to the recent increase, with people paying more for milk, butter, cheese, yoghurt, tomatoes, kiwifruit, broccoli, apples and chicken.

So far as the increase over the past two years is concerned, four of the food groups non-alcoholic beverages (6.2%), meat, poultry and fish (3%) restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food (2.8%) and grocery food (1.7%) contributed to the rise.

The fifth, fruit and vegetables, bucks the trend and is down 1% the sixth consecutive annual fall.

Items with the biggest price increase over the two years include sugar (39.7%), tomatoes (37.8%) lamb (20.6%) and soft drinks (8.8%).

Lee Stace has now graduated and has recently started as a full-time reporter with the Kāpiti Observer.