October 21, 2008
The Consumer Price Index rose 5.1% in the year to September – the highest it’s been since the year to June 1990.
Steep rises in the price of electricity, fuel, food and electricity were the major contributers to the increase.
Food prices rose 10.8% in the year to September, the highest increase since the year to April 1990 (which included an increase in GST from 10 to 12.5%)
All five subgroups recorded upward contributions to the annual increase, with the most significant contribution coming from the grocery food subgroup (up 12.8 percent). Within this subgroup, higher prices were recorded for cheddar cheese (up 61.6 percent), bread (up 16.5 percent), and fresh milk (up 12.6 percent).The remaining four subgroups recorded the following upward contributions: fruit and vegetables (up 17.9 percent), meat, poultry and fish (up 8.8 percent), restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food (up 6.3 percent), and non-alcoholic beverages (up 6.9 percent).
The 61.6% increase in the price of chedder cheese is huge, but when the increase for milk was about a fifth of that (12.6%) it can’t be all blamed on farmers.
October 6, 2008
While people around the wold worry about what’s in food produced in China, the elite in that country dine on pure organic foods.
Their diet includes beef from cattle that have grazed on the pesticide-free pastures of inner Mongolia and fish from the crystalline rivers and lakes of Hubei province in central China. They dine on rice that costs 15 times the price of the ordinary grain; as well it might, being grown on the slopes of a mountain near North Korea and irrigated by clear waters from melting snows.
They sip tea brewed with the most delicate leaves from lofty plantations on the fringe of the Tibetan plateau. It costs more than £100 a pound.
The task of selecting the best falls to a body known as the State Council Central Government Bureau Special Food Supply Centre. It caters for the dietary needs of the senior leaders such as President Hu Jintao who, foreign diplomats say, is a diabetic.
Surely this proves we have every reason to be concerned because if the food everyone else eats is wholesome and healthy there would be no need for the elite to have special supplies.
August 7, 2008
Rural News reports that farming leaders are astounded by the statistics which show New Zealand imports 40% or our total food needs and 70% of processed food.
They are much higher than expected, says Federated Farmers’ Meat and Fibre chairman Bruce Wills.
It sounds very high,’ Wills says, adding, ‘The ‘buy Kiwi made’ campaign people should be measuring the impact of this.’The still-high dollar ‘must be playing a big part in those numbers’. And high local labour costs will also be a factor.
‘I would like to see a breakdown of those figures. These may be value-added products that we are importing. We as a farming nation must keep an eye on this and make more effort to make the products ourselves.’
I don’t necessarily agree there is a problem with these numbers, nor that we need to make more effort to process more of our produce here.
While we are very good at producing meat, dairy produce and some fruit, vegetables and grains we can’t grow rice or bananas and a lot of other food that we need.
We also need to consider economics. If we receive more for our products on overseas markets then both producers and the country are better off if we supply international markets rather than the domestic one.
And we must also take production costs into account. At first glance it seems a bit silly to export the raw produce, process it and import the finished product. But if that can be done at a lower cost while meeting food health and safety standards without compromising quality then it makes sense.
I prefer to buy fresh food and local food is usually fresher; I also support local businesses where I can. But as an exporting nation our wealth depends on people in other countries buying our produce and we would be the losers if they start demanding their own local produce rather than ours.