Fonterra says sustained increases in global dairy prices are behind the higher cost of cheese.
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File photo. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

A 1kg block of Tasty cheese is now selling for between $16 and $18 at the main supermarket chains.

Fonterra said since the pandemic, there had been a significant increase in demand for cheese in New Zealand and globally.

It said global cheese prices have jumped 15 percent over the last year.

In New Zealand, the company said it held retail cheese prices, for brands like Mainland, for most of the last year.

But in May, it increased the average price per block by about 50 cents.

The rising price of dairy products on supermarket shelves has meant some foodbanks are no longer receiving regular donations of milk and cheese to give to those most in need.

Māngere Budgeting Services chief executive Darryl Evans said it has been months since its foodbank parcels included staple dairy products.

“We’ve had no milk to give, no cheese, those items are either selling in the supermarkets or maybe going to some foodbanks but certainly our foodbank hasn’t seen any of those items since the beginning of this year,” he said.

ANZ rural economist Susan Kilsby said the price of cheese at local retailers was affected by global demand which had been high, resulting in prices rising.

“People are looking to consume more dairy products for health reasons. The underlying market is really strong for all dairy products and that’s what we’re starting to see flow through here to our supermarket prices in New Zealand.”

She said the wholesale price of cheese was not yet at record levels.

THE Dairy Industry Code of Conduct has brought about a “significant culture change” within the dairy sector and helped increase competition at the farmgate, according to Australian Competition & Consumer Commission deputy chair Mick Keogh.

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