Food inflation slowed in 2012

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The latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) report from USDA shows retail beef and veal prices continued to rise through 2012, while all food prices also increased on average, but at a slower rate than in 2011. The report shows beef and veal prices increased by 4.6 percent from December 2011 through December 2012. That increase was one of the highest among food categories included in the report, but was well below that of fiscal year 2011, when beef prices rose by 10.2 percent. For 2013, the report projects beef and veal prices will increase by 3 to 4 percent.

December beef prices were up 0.3 percent from November and are 4.6 percent above last December, with steak prices up 4.1 percent and ground beef prices up 5.6 percent.

The index for pork prices decreased by 3.3 percent over the past 12 months, following an increase of 8.5 percent in FY 2011. The index for poultry increased by 5.7 percent from December 2011 through December 2012. The index for all meats, poultry and fish increased by 1.5 percent during the same period.

For 2012, the CPI for all food increased by 1.8 percent over the past 12 months. For 2013, the USDA projects further increases of 3 to 4 percent.

Fats and oils are another category that has shown significant price inflation over the past two years, but that rate seems to be slowing, with just a 1.7 percent increase over the past 12 months, compared with a 9.3 percent increase in FY 2011. The agency projects an annual increase of 2 to 3percent in the CPI for fats and oils for 2013.

The CPI for fresh fruits posted an increase of 2.3 percent over the past 12 months, compared with  4.5 for FY 2011.

The CPI for food at home increased by 1.3 percent from December 2012 through December 2013, a slower rate of increase compared with FY 2011 when the index for food at home increased by 4.8 percent. The index for food away from home increased by 2.5 percent during the same period, compared with 1.3 percent in 2011. The larger increase in the CPI for food away from home suggests consumers are dining out a little more as the economy improves, after pulling back on restaurant visits during the recession.

View the latest Consumer Price Index data from the USDA’s Economic research Service.

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