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Daniella Miletic
April 30, 2009

MELBOURNE households continue to be hit by higher food bills, with new figures revealing the cost of some basic groceries, including breakfast cereal and toilet paper, has increased by more than 8 per cent since last year.

The latest food figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that most of the 61 items monitored by the bureau cost more this year than they did in the March quarter of 2008.

Figures across eight capital cities, released yesterday, showed price increases in Melbourne for items including instant coffee (up 8.5 per cent), sugar (2.6 per cent) and baked beans (13.9 per cent).

The good news for consumers is that, earlier this month, the bureau reported that in the March quarter petrol prices fell 9 per cent and food prices fell 0.9 per cent, compared to the December quarter. Analysts believe food prices are starting to fall and a dive in global demand for grain and dairy will continue to lower bills.

Some items in Melbourne have already become cheaper. Since March last year, the price of petrol has fallen by more than 15 per cent, the price of a loaf of bread has dropped by 10.5 per cent and eggs by 4.1 per cent.

But the bureau also reported that Melburnians are paying more for forequarter chops than consumers in any other city. Behind Darwin, Melbourne has the most expensive sliced cheese, biscuits and chocolate. With Adelaide residents, Melburnians are also paying more for rump steak (up 4 per cent since last year).

Lamb loin chops climbed by 8.7 per cent, while sausages have increased by 8.2 per cent.

Some fruit and vegetables items are also more expensive, with a large increase in the price of tomatoes (15 per cent), carrots (6.9 per cent) and potatoes (4.1 per cent), while oranges, bananas and onions have become cheaper.

Christopher Zinn of Choice said the new Choice-run grocery website, unlike the bureau figures, would offer a broader context as to price movements. He said consumers were more price sensitive during a downturn.

“The downturn has, according to our surveys and others, made people much more conscious about the price of their weekly grocery basket and to ensure they are not paying more than they need to,” he said.

http://www.theage.com.au/national/melburnians-pay-more-for-groceries-20090429-anhe.html

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