Food Price Index Series 2014
Food price index review for July 2014
We have reviewed the FPI, as part of a wider, three-yearly consumer price index (CPI) review to ensure the index remains relevant. We updated the basket of representative food items being tracked in the FPI, and updated the relative importance.
The updated weights show that about $37 of every $100 that households spend on food, is spent on grocery food. About $23 is spent on restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food, and about $16 is spent on meat, poultry, and fish. Fruit and vegetable spending accounts for $14, and the remaining $10 is spent on non-alcoholic beverages.
Three items have been added to the FPI basket and none have been removed, taking the number of items in the basket to 166. The items added to the basket are:
- frozen prawns
- packaged leaf salad
- breakfast food drinks.
There were changes to product specifications for chicken pieces and energy drinks. We are now tracking prices for chicken breasts separately from other types of chicken pieces. The weighted average price for 1kg of chicken breast is now included in table 3 of the release. We are also now collecting prices for 250ml containers of energy drinks in supermarkets in addition to 350ml containers in convenience stores. Previously, prices for energy drinks were collected for 350ml in both store types.
About 19,000 prices were collected from 560 retail outlets.
Due to being unavailable at the time of price collection, on average 0.7 percent of prices (not including seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables) are imputed each month – by carrying forward the previous month’s price.
The reference population of the FPI covers approximately 98 percent of the usually-resident New Zealand population living in permanent dwellings. There are no exclusions based on income source or geographic location.
Expenditure weights give the relative importance of the food goods and services in the FPI basket.
Expenditure weights are updated every three years as part of regular FPI reviews. The weights are derived largely from the 2012/13 Household Economic Survey (HES). We also used information from food manufacturers and distributors, and supermarket scan data from The Nielsen Company.
FPI weights are based on household spending for the year to June 2013 (the ‘weight reference period’) expressed in June 2014 prices (the ‘price reference period’).
The relative importance of the FPI subgroups shows that about $37 of every $100 that households spend on food is spent on grocery food. About $23 is spent on eating out or takeaways, and about $16 is spent on meat, poultry, and fish. Fruit and vegetables account for $14, and the remaining $10 is spent on non-alcoholic beverages, such as packaged coffee, soft drinks, and juices.
More information on the relative importance of FPI subgroups, classes, and selected sections is in table 6 of this release.
Prices are surveyed by visiting retail outlets in 12 urban areas: Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier-Hastings, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Invercargill.
Before 1 July 2014, we also collected FPI prices in Timaru, Rotorua, and Wanganui. However, in line with recommendation 7 of the CPI Advisory Committee 2013, we stopped collecting prices in these three regions, so we could divert the cost of collection towards funding CPI-related initiatives such as household living-costs price indexes and seasonally adjusted analytical CPI series. Price change for these regions will be directly represented by Tauranga, Palmerston North, and Christchurch, respectively.
Fresh fruit and vegetable prices are surveyed weekly, and the remaining food prices are generally surveyed between the 8th and 16th day of the month, although sometimes surveying starts and finishes earlier or later.
Food prices are collected from about 560 outlets in the 12 surveyed urban areas. Of these, about 60 are supermarkets, 30 greengrocers, 20 fish shops, 30 butchers, 60 convenience stores (with about half being service stations and the rest being dairies, grocery stores, and superettes), 110 restaurants (for evening meals), and about 250 other suitable outlets (for breakfast, lunch, and takeaway food).
Statistics NZ collects prices from a sample of supermarkets in each of the 12 FPI pricing regions. This sample is designed to be representative of household purchases in each region. It was last reviewed in 2011. The sample of other stores was last reviewed in 2013 as part of the rolling review of outlets.
See CPI rolling review of retail outlets for more information.
Accuracy of the data
Review of the food price index
Reviews of the FPI are undertaken every three years, as part of wider reviews of the consumers price index (CPI). The latest review was implemented with the publication of Food Price Index: July 2014 onwards. The review involved reselecting the basket of representative food goods and services, calculating new national expenditure weights, and moving to regional expenditure weights.
The previous product sample’s final price collection period was June 2014. The updated FPI sample of products also had prices collected in June 2014. An overlapping price collection is necessary when changing a price index, to ensure changes in basket composition (eg basket additions, different outlets) are not reflected as price changes.
See Food price index review: 2014 for more information.
From the July 2014 FPI onwards, regional price change is weighted using regional expenditure weights for the five broad regions (Auckland, Wellington, rest of North Island, Canterbury, and rest of South Island). Regional expenditure weights use expenditure in each region to weight regional price change. This ensures that price change in regions where households spend more per person on a particular item relative to other regions (eg Auckland which has 33.37 percent of the population and an FPI regional expenditure weight of 35.52 percent) has more influence on the combined national price change for that item.
For broad regions with multiple pricing centres (rest of North Island and rest of South Island), we use population shares to allocate the regional expenditure weight to the pricing centres.
Previously, we used national expenditure weights in each of the (then) 15 regional pricing centres, weighted by the centre’s population share. This change was recommended by the 2013 CPI Advisory Committee (recommendation 6) and aligns with international best practice.
We calculated regional expenditure weights as proportions of national expenditure (eg 35.52 percent of food expenditure is in the Auckland region) for each FPI class or section (the lowest published level) using HES regional expenditure. We applied class/section level proportions to the individual items within that class or section (eg the regional proportions for fruit was applied to national expenditure on each fruit item) to derive regional expenditure on each individual item (eg spending on apples in Auckland).
Regional expenditure was then expressed in June 2014 prices for the respective region (eg apple expenditure in Auckland was expressed in June 2014 apple prices collected in Auckland). The group level regional weights were then calculated by aggregating all food expenditure in each broad region.
Statistics NZ publishes food and consumers price indexes for five broad regions based on regional council area boundaries. These indexes are available from Infoshare. These regions are Auckland, Wellington, rest of North Island, Canterbury, and rest of South Island.
For the 2014 regional expenditure weights for the five broad regions and 12 regional pricing centres, see table 7 of this release.
Outlets are given appropriate weights to reflect their relative importance in terms of household spending.
Elementary aggregate formulae
Regional elementary aggregates are calculated for each of the 12 pricing centres from all prices collected for an item within that region. Regional elementary aggregates are calculated using a 'geometric mean of price relatives', or Jevons formula.
The Jevons formula is used to calculate average prices for all food goods and services in the basket, except fresh fruit and fresh vegetables. The Jevons formula assumes that households spend the same amount at each surveyed outlet in each period. This implies that increased quantities are purchased from outlets showing lower-than-average relative price change and decreased quantities from outlets showing higher-than-average price change. The calculation of fresh fruit and vegetable average prices uses the Dutot formula.
Information about the Food Price Index gives more information on the Jevons and Dutot formulae (see elementary aggregate formulae).
'On special' prices
Items that are 'on special' are included in the FPI at the price levels observed at the time of price collection. Quantity specials (for example, three loaves of bread for $5.00) are also taken into account (as the price per loaf for the special is usually lower than the price of a single loaf). Where discounted prices are available only to customers who belong to discount schemes, this is represented in the FPI by collecting these prices at some outlets within a region, but not others.
Consistency with other periods or datasets
Impact of the Christchurch earthquakes on price collection
Following the Christchurch earthquake on 22 February 2011 price movements for the rest of New Zealand were used to calculate price movements in Christchurch for the March 2011 FPI. About half the prices used to calculate the June 2011 FPI had been collected before the 13 June earthquakes; collection was completed on 20 and 21 June, two working days later than other regions where we collect prices for the FPI.
The FPI has an index reference period of the June 2006 month (=1000). This is the benchmark to which prices in other periods are compared (eg if the index number in a later period is 1150, prices have increased by 15.0 percent since the index reference period). Prices for later periods can also be compared in the same fashion.
Seasonal adjustment of prices – fresh fruit and vegetables
Until the June 2006 month, fresh fruit and vegetable items that exhibited a seasonal pattern were adjusted to remove the effect of normal seasonal change. From the July 2006 month onwards, the FPI incorporates seasonally unadjusted prices for fresh fruit and vegetables. This change is in line with a recommendation made by the 2004 CPI Revision Advisory Committee.
The ongoing, fully unadjusted FPI is linked at the June 2006 month to the previously published FPI, which is partly seasonally adjusted. As such, care is required when comparing annual movements over this transition period. Annual movements calculated over the annual period encompassing the June 2006 month were based on fully unadjusted index numbers for the latest month, compared with adjusted index numbers for fresh fruit and vegetables for the same month of the previous year.
Reconciling the FPI and food group of the CPI
When comparing the FPI and the food group of the CPI, strictly speaking, the quarterly food group index number is not the average of the relevant three monthly FPI numbers. There are some technical differences between the monthly FPI indexes and quarterly indexes.
See Food prices in the consumers price index and food price index for more information.
Interpreting the data
Seasonal adjustment The 2013 CPI Advisory Committee recommended we add analytical seasonally adjusted series to our publications. We are seasonally adjusting the CPI and FPI at the all groups, group, subgroup, and class levels. The headline FPI will remain unadjusted. We have seasonally adjusted using direct adjustment rather than indirect since this produced better quality statistics. Indirect seasonal adjustment occurs when individual component series of the main aggregate series are seasonally adjusted, then aggregated to derive totals. For example, an indirect seasonally adjusted fruit series would be compiled by adding all the seasonally adjusted series (for apples, pears, kiwifruit, etc) together. Direct seasonal adjustment occurs when seasonally adjustment is done at the aggregate level, independently of seasonally adjusting the components. A direct seasonally adjusted fruit series would be made up by adjusting the aggregate of all the unadjusted series (for apples, pears, kiwifruit, etc). We use the x13 ARIMA-SEATS package to run our seasonal adjustment. For more information about seasonal adjustment see Seasonal adjustment in Statistics New Zealand and for how it relates to the CPI see Price Index News: CPI sources and methods articles.
See Analytical comsumer price index seasonally adjusted series for further information.
Seasonal availability of fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetable prices are reflected in the FPI when there is enough produce available to estimate representative average prices. For example, prices for nectarines are historically not included in the April and May FPI. Similarly, prices for strawberries are not included in the May and June FPI. This is because not enough prices can be collected from stores during these months. No price change is shown in the FPI for these items during these months. When produce returns to sufficient levels, the prices are again reflected in the FPI. Price movements then reflect the price change from the month that the item was last included to the current month.
Weighted average retail prices of selected food items
Table 3 contains a selection of weighted average retail prices for the current and previous months. These weighted average retail prices were calculated from prices collected in the June 2006 month. Subsequent months' weighted average prices are then calculated by applying price index movements for the relevant items. These are not statistically accurate measures of average transaction price levels, but are reliable indicators of percentage changes in prices.