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Checkout prices fuel food crisis

As we move into the new year the cost of living is front of mind, especially the weekly food shop.

The Times-Age has looked at five supermarket brands across Wairarapa – Countdown, FreshChoice, New World, Pak’nSave, and Supervalue – to see how their food prices compare on selected key items: milk, bread, cheese, eggs, apples, and flour.

This data references prices as of Friday, January 19, 2024

Looking across the board, the average cost for all the items was a little over $30.

Among the supermarkets, the cheapest total for these items was Pak’nSave at a tad over $27, while the dearest store was FreshChoice at over $32.

Bread was the most consistently priced item across locations, while cheese was priced as low as $9 and as high as $13.50.

With inflation continuing to impact what we’re paying at the checkout, it’s not surprising local food banks are seeing more people coming in to receive food parcels.

“Weekly parcel numbers have noticeably increased each month since October,” a Carterton Foodbank spokesperson told the Times-Age.

The spokesperson also noted that these numbers have greatly increased compared to before the pandemic: “From record, the foodbank had about 600 weekly parcels. This year we are looking at over 900.”

Carterton Foodbank has a standard parcel that contains eggs, bread, milk, table spreads, tea or coffee or Milo, a meat option, and pasta.

In addition to those items, tinned fruit is also provided.

The spokesperson said that while the food bank doesn’t delve into people’s situations too much, inflation appears to have played a part in the increase in people seeking help.

“We are seeing more families with their budgets being stretched,” the spokesperson said.

“With the increase in numbers, resources are stretching, and so we must look for additional funding to supply the food needs.”

Helping supply the food bank with items is Masterton-based food rescue charity Waiwaste.

The organisation takes supermarket products that are destined for the dump because of damaged packaging or approaching best-by dates and distributes them to other groups.

“There is nothing wrong with the food, so we collect it from the supermarkets to give out,” Waiwaste’s Victoria Ross said.

“We have seen more requests from the food banks.”

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