Overall, food prices in January 2012 didn’t change from December 2011. For the year however, food prices were up by one percent.
Food subgroups were down, apart from fruit and vegetable prices, which rose by 3.6 percent on the month. This is in contrast to price changes over the year, where fruit and vegetables is the only subgroup where prices have fallen, down 4.4 percent.
The item of the month is pumpkin, which has increased in price by 107 percent compared to last year. Apparently this is due to a supply shortage, which was a result of poor growing conditions.
Other items with big increases on the year were minced beef (up 11 percent), crackers (up 14 percent) and white bread (up 9.5 percent).
The increases in the other four subgroups were 0.2% (meat, poultry, and fish), 2.2 percent (non-alcoholic beverages; restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food) and 2.4 percent (grocery food).
On the whole we are not expecting food prices in general to increase over the next year. However, there will always be specific items, particularly in the fruit and vegetable subgroup that increase or decrease dramatically in price.
In any case, if you are going to use pumpkin, at over $5/kg you want to do something special with it especially if you have a side of white bread.
Here is Donna Hay’s recipe for the ultimate pumpkin soup
· 2kg whole butternut pumpkin
· 1 onion
· olive oil, for drizzling
· sea salt
· 3½ cups (875ml) chicken stock
· 1 cup (250ml) single (pouring) cream
· 1 tablespoon honey
· sour cream, to serve
1. Preheat oven to 220°C (425°F).
2. Cut the pumpkin in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds.
3. Place the pumpkin, cut-side up, and onion on a baking tray.
4. Drizzle with a little oil and sprinkle with salt.
5. Bake for 55–60 minutes or until the pumpkin is just soft and starting to brown. Scoop the pumpkin out of the skin into a blender.
6. Scoop the onion flesh away from its skin and add to the blender.
7. Add 1 cup (250ml) of the chicken stock and blend until smooth.
8. Pour the mixture into a saucepan, add remaining stock, cream and honey.
9. Place over medium heat until soup is heated through.
10. Serve with sour cream.