Rabobank Media Release
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Rabobank: Australia passed peak food price inflation, but still well above long-term average

The latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, released today, shows annual top-line Australian food price inflation had slowed to 8.0% in the March 2023 quarter, from 9.2 % seen in the previous (December 2022) quarter .

Rabobank senior food retail analyst Michael Harvey said while this easing was good news for consumers, indicating “Australia has passed peak food inflation as we had largely been anticipating”, the figure was still well above the long-term (10-year) average of food inflation of 2.2%.

Mr Harvey said the March 2023 CPI showed there were “mixed results across the food basket which reinforces Rabobank’s view that food price inflation will remain elevated for some time, and it will be a bumpy road to a more normal food inflation environment locally”.

Mr Harvey said the outlook for food price inflation for the remainder of year would be dependent on growing conditions for Australia’s agricultural sector. “And we will also be keeping a close watch on global pressures which have contributed to the food inflationary pressures, such as commodity markets, supply chain shocks and elevated energy prices,” he said.

Overall, the latest figures showed “the meat aisles are providing less ‘sticker shock’ for consumers”, Mr Harvey said. “For example, deflation was actually evident in lamb – the only sub-category in food to record a decline in prices. Lamb prices declined 2.4% per cent year on year compared with a 3.2% year-on-year increase recorded in the previous quarter.”

Lower price inflation levels (of single digits and below the headline 8.0%) were also recorded for other categories including vegetables, beef, pork and spreads, Rabobank said.

Some fresh produce is seeing the benefit of more normal growing conditions and better availability, according to Rabobank associate analyst Pia Piggott.

“That said, fruit price inflation is still up 10.6% year on year, with the impacts from weather events in 2022 still being felt on supply and prices of fruit,” she said. “Avocados have also seen quite a high increase in prices over the first quarter of the year as supply from Western Australia was down, but as we have seen prices soften more recently and expect this to continue to do so as Queensland begins its Hass avocado harvest.”

Mr Harvey said some food categories “remain challenging for Aussie consumers with double digit rates of inflation still seen for bread, dairy and cooking oils”.

“And rates of inflation actually increased in the March 2023 quarter for cheese, snacks and eggs,” he said.

Mr Harvey said it would “remain a volatile consumer market ahead given the broader cost of living pressures”.

Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group is a part of the international Rabobank Group, the world’s leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has more than 120 years’ experience providing customised banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 38 countries, servicing the needs of more than nine million clients worldwide through a network of more than 1000 offices and branches. Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group is one of Australasia’s leading agricultural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to the region’s food and agribusiness sector. The bank has 90 branches throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Media contacts:

Denise Shaw
Head of Media Relations
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand
Phone: 02 8115 2744 or 0439 603 525
Email: denise.shaw@rabobank.com

Will Banks
Media Relations Manager
Rabobank Australia
Phone: 0418 216 103
Email: will.banks@rabobank.com