Although the U.S. inflation rate slowed to 8.3 percent for the year ending in April, food continues to cost more and more, said the Labor Department on Wednesday. Grocery prices shot up 10.8 percent in the past year, driven by higher prices for such foods as bacon, up 17.7 percent, chicken, up 16.4 percent, and eggs, up 22.6 percent.
Sharply lower prices for palm, sunflower and soybean oils helped pull down the Food Price Index marginally from its record high that followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Grain prices also fell during April while meat, dairy and sugar prices rose.
U.S. food prices will soar by an average of 6.8 percent this year, the highest annual rate since President Reagan's first year in office — and that's assuming price increases slow in coming months, said a University of Missouri think tank on Monday. Sky-high commodity prices are a factor, "but higher labor and energy costs and a range of other factors are much of the story," said the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute.
The chief executives of the nation’s four largest meatpacking companies said on Wednesday that they were not the cause of surging meat prices at the grocery store, which are up by 15 percent in a year. And they told a skeptical House Agriculture chairman David Scott there was no pact to drive up profits at the expense of consumers or limit the meat supply for Americans.
The USDA will seek maximum impact from the $1 billion that it will put into climate-smart pilot projects, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday, but he demurred at discussing next steps for agriculture in mitigating global warming. "We'll see where the applications take us," he told the North American Agricultural Journalists meeting.
Grocery prices will rise by an average of 5.5 percent this year, the highest inflation rate at the supermarket since 2008, said the Agriculture Department on Monday. The forecast was an abrupt 2 percentage point increase from last month and was spurred by three months of rapid rises in the prices of many foods.
Americans say they are spending an additional $15 a week on food but that inflation is less important to them at the grocery store than buying good-tasting food, according to a survey by Purdue University. “At present, consumer food demand is price insensitive,” said the Consumer Food Insights report.
The chief executive officers of Cargill, Tyson Foods, JBS, and National Beef — the four largest meatpackers in the country — will testify at a House Agriculture Committee hearing on consolidation in the meat industry, said chairman David Scott.
From meat to milk, grocery prices galloped higher, rising by 10 percent in the last 12 months, said the Labor Department on Tuesday. It was the biggest increase in food-at-home prices in 41 years, according to the monthly Consumer Price Index report.
Prices for common elements of the U.S. diet, from poultry and dairy to fruits and vegetables, are rising at double or triple their usual rate, said the government in forecasting the highest annual food inflation rate in 14 years. The Agriculture Department said food prices would rise an average of 5 percent this year, an abrupt two-point increase from its forecast a month ago.
U.S. food prices will rise by at least 4.2 percent this year, propelled by high energy and commodity prices, said a University of Missouri think tank on Wednesday. The group’s director said the actual figure could be higher still.
The food inflation rate is up for the ninth month in a row and now matches the U.S. inflation rate of 7.9 percent a year, with double-digit increases in the price of meat, milk, and fresh fruit, said the government on Thursday. Prices for groceries rose even faster, 8.6 percent, than the overall food index, which includes food sold at restaurants, fast-food outlets, and company cafeterias.
The UN gauge of world food prices surged 3.9 percent and now is the highest in the 18-year history of the Food Price Index, said the Food and Agriculture Organization. Prices rose in part due to concerns, ahead of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, of grain supplies from the Black Sea region.
Global food supplies were put in jeopardy both directly and indirectly by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said two analysts at the IFPRI think tank on Thursday. The war will constrict grain supplies in the short term, and it would disrupt the flow of fertilizer needed for crop production in many countries.
Food prices are rising at a faster and faster rate, reported the Labor Department on Thursday. Food inflation, a modest 2.2 percent a year last May, started 2022 at a 7 percent gallop, the eighth month in a row the rate has gone up.
Food prices surged by 6.3 percent during 2021, nearly three times the usual rate of annual increase, but food inflation is expected to decrease this year, said the American Enterprise Institute on Tuesday. Retail prices for beef and pork "show signs of weakening," and many commodity prices are forecast to decline late this year following large global harvests, said an AEI paper.
Although the White House blames big meatpackers for driving up food prices, the real culprits are higher costs and labor shortages all along the supply chain, said a pork industry report on Wednesday. Four packers control 65 percent of hog slaughter in the United States, but the industry is less concentrated than it was five years ago.
Beef and pork prices are going up again this year but the increases will not be as severe as last year, said the USDA on Tuesday. The monthly Food Price Outlook reported that beef and pork prices would rise by 3.5 percent for the year, and that "Upward pressures on meat prices are expected to ease in the latter half of 2022."