Tue, Aug 07, 2012 - Page 13 News List

Inflation jumps as fresh food prices drive up costs

PRICE HIKES:The government’s statistics bureau says last month’s 2.46 percent inflation increase was largely due to weather-related hikes to the cost of fruit and vegetables

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter

A woman shops for vegetables at a supermarket yesterday. The Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics announced that the consumer price index rose 2.46 percent last month from a year earlier.

Photo: CNA

Annual inflation last month expanded at its fastest pace for nearly four years, mainly on the impact of rising vegetable and fruit prices, led by days of heavy rains, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.

The consumer price index (CPI) rose 2.46 percent last month from a year ago — following a 1.77 percent increase in June — marking the highest level since September 2008, when the index expanded 3.1 percent, the DGBAS said in its monthly report.

Prices of vegetables and fruit grew 32.77 percent and 19.9 percent last month from a year earlier amid recent heavy rains, the major factor driving up consumer prices last month, the report said.

“The year-on-year increase in vegetable and fruit prices boosted headline inflation by 1.22 percent last month,” DGBAS section chief Wang Shu-chuan (王淑娟) told a press conference.

The vegetable and fruit prices, as well as the prices of dairy and aquatic products — which increased 5.82 percent and 4.54 percent year-on-year respectively last month — pushed overall food prices up 6.27 percent and raised the headline inflation index by 1.74 percent, the report’s data showed.

The recent upturn in global crude oil prices was the other key factor that drove up consumer prices last month, with fuel costs rising 4.33 percent year-on-year, statistics showed.

Consumer prices for this month may have some upside risks, as vegetable and fruit prices could remain high, following the continued impact of Typhoon Saola on the country’s weather in the past few days, Wang said.

However, she kept a conservative attitude on whether the nation was facing wider inflationary pressures, saying that annual core CPI growth — which excludes vegetables, fruit and energy prices — remained steady.

Core CPI, a more accurate indicator for viewing long-term inflation trends, grew 0.96 percent last month from a year ago, still lower than the critical 1 percent mark, data provided by DGBAS showed.

Wang said the public may feel mounting price pressure more accutely as expenses for eating out, as well as non-durable goods, increased faster than those items affected by headline inflation price increases.

The cost of eating out expanded by 2.54 percent last month from a year earlier, marking its highest level since March 2009, while prices of non-durable goods grew 4.12 percent year-on-year, data showed.

Meanwhile, the wholesale price index (WPI) slid 1.71 percent last month from a year ago, compared with the 1.7 percent annual drop recorded the previous month, the DGBAS said.

For the first seven months, the WPI rose 0.18 percent from a year earlier, while the CPI was up 1.61 percent year-on-year, statistics showed.

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