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Fruit prices increased 17 percent in the year to May 2016, which is the largest annual increase since 2009 and it mainly due to higher prices for avocado and bananas.  Avocado prices are now at their highest level, averaging $4.48 for a 200g avocado, compared with $1.64 in May last year.     Vegetable prices decreased 1.7 percent, influenced by lower prices for kumara with a kilo of kumara averaging  $3.46 in May 2016, compared with $5.01 in May 2015.  Overall the lower fruit and vegetable prices lead to a drop in food prices of 0.5 percent in May which  followed  a 0.3 percent rise in April.    Statistics New Zealand revealed  the average price for a kilo of tomatoes fell to $6.00 in May compared with $6.70 in April.     Meat,  poultry and fish prices rose 0.2 percent, with  the average price for a kilo of lamb chops at  $14.28, up 8.0 percent from April 2016.       General grocery prices showed no overall change in May.
The  “Rural Broadband Initiative” has come to an end with Chorus having upgraded 1200 broadband roadside cabinets across the country.   The RBI has improved the broadband access for an estimated 110,000 homes and businesses.    The total number of national rural connections has grown 73 per cent, according to figures from Chorus.    Chorus CEO Mark Ratcliffe says there is no question that access to better broadband makes a significant difference to the lives of rural New Zealanders.   Northland was the region that had the greatest number of cabinets upgraded, with 210 and the second highest number of rural broadband connections at  14,870, after the Auckland region, which has 16,682.      The average connection speed for rural New Zealand is currently 13.8 Mbps, an increase of 148 per cent from the meagre  5.6 Mbps before the initiative.       Mr Radcliffe says people have high expectations of Broadband with homes having  several connected devices at any one time, and more data being streamed or downloaded for  high-definition TV and video.    He says the impact on rural businesses and the economy is encouraging the emergence of new businesses never contemplated even a few years ago.
And Rural broadband specialist Farmside has teamed up with Australian telecommunications provider Optus to provide a digital lifeline for those who live outside urban boundaries.    Farmside general manager Stuart Cooper said the agreement secured superior internet access for rural New Zealand.    He says there are 25,000 remote  New Zealand homes, farms and businesses that  don’t  get  the full benefit of modern technology because it is too expensive for them to hook up to the internet, satellite is  the only solution.    Farmside will access the Optus’ D2 satellite,  launched in 2007 and is stationed northwest of New Zealand.
So it’s all go from tomorrow with the biggest festival of farming in the Southern Hemisphere underway.    Mystery Creek is all go  with organisers hoping for more than the 126,000 people who came through the turnstiles last year.   The big question is how will another year of depressed dairy prices affect spending at The Fieldays.    The event contributed $396 million to the NZ economy last year with the Waikato taking a $132 million slice of the pie.    Around $1 million was withdrawn from ATMs on site last year.     Traditionally it’s the time of year farmers splash out on new tractors, technology and vehicles, but after a challenging couple of seasons with the reduced milk price, many are expected to be conservative with their purchasing.
Well, the currency is wreaking havoc with export revenues with the NZ Dollar  sharply up against major trading currencies, and the Trade Weighted Index is the highest it has been since May 2015.   While weak data from the US last week started the push higher at the end of the week, the Reserve Bank’s announcement poured fuel onto the flame.    Apparently overseas markets were expecting a cut, which caused the NZ Dollar to spike.   The Reserve Bank has labelled the NZD as being  “higher than appropriate.    The RBNZ did suggest, however, that if the NZ Dollar does not fall from its current levels, it will force the bank to cut the Official Cash Rate further to try and bring it down.  So much for earlier predictions of  a Kiwi sitting below  US 60 cents  by year’s  end.    The NZ Dollar will now  be doing a good job of preventing any further upside going into next week with steer slaughter numbers filling the gap left by the winding down of the cow kill,  although some regions in the lower end of the North Island are still flushing a few dairy cows out. There are reports of some waiting times for prime cattle, as processors will be chasing the last of the cows while they are there, and will be keen to have some cattle on hand to kill once the cows grind to a halt.
 
Weekly cattle kill numbers have reached a turning point, with numbers slowing significantly, bringing more pressure to the cattle markets at auction.   Coupled with fewer numbers available, prices continued to improve, with Friesian cows lifting to $1.76-$1.88/kg for 517-690kg, while Freis x, 435-569kg,  sold for $1.71-$1.80/kg.    Heifer  Prices reflected strong demand with Friesian lines, 508-544kg, right up there with recent prices for beef lines at $2.75-$2.78/kg.   Beef lines however pushed higher, and in some cases high yielding lines outshone the  steers.    Here x and Ang x, 435-610kg, were earning $2.85-$2.90/kg, compared to Here x steers, 590-562kg, which sold for $2.81-$2.91/kg.      Strong demand for store lambs comes mainly from Mid Canterbury, where crops are ready and low volumes are meaning buyers are having to be very competitive to secure lines. Lighter lambs were cracking $3/kg today, with ewe lambs, 26-29kgs, making $82-$86 at $3.02-$3.05/kg. A small offering of mixed sex, 24-27kg, went even higher, making $3.26-$3.27/kg.    Mixed sex, 35-37kg, sold on a steady market at $88-$91, to average $2.50/kg, while a firm market for 30-31kg lambs pushed the 30kg indicator up to $2.82/kg. The overall average price of $2.71/kg is well up on last year’s $2.35/kg.   1500 Prime lamb  firmed to $90-$129. Prime ewes also sold to good demand with medium to good types earning $60-$79, and tops  $80-$92.