Although U.S. food prices generally show small increases from year to year, the USDA says prices for "food away from home," a category that includes restaurants, carry-out food and institutional meals, rose 3.1 percent in 2019. That's the largest increase since 3.5 percent in 2009 and is part of a pattern in which the price of food away from home rises more rapidly than retail prices for groceries.
Organic food is everywhere, from nationwide retailers to the local corner store, and facing increased price competition that slowed sales growth to its lowest rate since 2009, said the Organic Trade Association in an annual report on Wednesday.
The United States is headed for the fifth year in a row of lower-than-average increases in grocery prices, part of a longer trend of smaller and less volatile changes in food inflation, said two USDA economists.
Led by “much weaker” vegetable oil, dairy, and grain prices, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s index of global food prices fell to its lowest level since May 2016. The price of vegetable oil dropped to a 12-year low.
In a surprising amicus brief, the Justice Department last week recommended that the Supreme Court not hear Missouri’s challenge to California’s animal-welfare laws, which mandate larger cages for some farm animals. The stance could bode well for animal-welfare advocates fighting for similar legislation in other states.
If they didn’t tighten their belts, Americans certainly pinched their pennies on food during the 2008-09 recession and the recovery that stretched far into this decade, say USDA economists. Middle-income households continued to spend less on food through 2016.
Thanks to declines in food prices in 2016 and 2017, grocery store prices will stand at a lower overall level at the end of this year than they were at the end of 2015, said the monthly Food Price Outlook. For the second month in a row, USDA raised its forecast of price increases for fresh vegetables but forecast a scant 0.5 percent rise in food prices for the year.
Grocery prices will rise by a nearly invisible 0.5 percent this year and a modest 1.5 percent in 2019, estimated the USDA’s monthly Food Price Outlook on Thursday. If the forecast proves true, 2019 would be the fourth year in a row that supermarket prices rise at a much slower rate than the usual 2.1 percent annually.
Americans are headed for the fourth year in a row of lower-than-normal increases in food prices, according to the USDA’s Food Price Outlook. The monthly report estimated that prices will rise by just 1.5 percent this year.