While inflation slowed slightly in August, up 8.3 percent, Americans may still need to be prepared to pay more for their upcoming trip to the grocery store. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it turns out that food prices have risen every month of 2022. Each month since February has broken 40-year records during Joe Biden’s tenure in the White House. As revealed in the August Consumer Price Index (CPI) published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food costs rose 11.4 percent, with groceries rising 13.5 percent year-over-year.
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In the overall food category, this represents the largest increase since May 1979, while in the food-at-home category, it represents the largest increase since March 1979, according to Steve Reed, an economist with the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. The cost of groceries increased 0.7 percent month-over-month from July to August, which is lower than in recent months, but still far from its December 2021 level, up just 0.4 percent. Reed said, “Prices are moving sort of broadly together. There’s not a huge amount of really noticeable jumps or declines compared to some other months.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the rate of increase sweeps aside the increases of the last two years, with home food prices rising 3.5% in 2020 and 2021. This represents an increase well above the USDA’s August 25 estimate of an annual increase in home food prices of between 10% and 11% in 2022. Peanut butter increased 15.2 percent year-over-year, according to the BLS, while butter increased 24.6 percent. There were also significant increases in packaged foods, with frozen foods rising 18.5 percent, snacks rising 16.7 percent, and spices, seasonings, condiments and sauces increasing 15.4 percent, said Daily Caller.
According to the USDA, food prices were impacted by large-scale economic issues, such as supply chain disruptions, rising labor costs, and high energy costs. As a result of low pork inventories, pork costs remained high through July 2021. As a result of the avian flu outbreak, egg prices soared by 38 percent through that same period. Dairy products were up 16.2 percent year-over-year, according to the August BLS report, while cereals and other bakery products cost 16.4 percent more year-over-year. Chicken was up 16.6 percent, pork and ham were up 6.8 percent and 9.2 percent, respectively. Beef was an exception with an increase of only 2.5%.
Despite the USDA’s forecast for a 29% or 32% rise in wholesale wheat and flour prices, record production in Australia, Canada, and Russia has pushed prices lower than otherwise. Reuters reports that Ukrainian wheat remains high in price despite an agreement between Russia and Ukraine to allow some exports. Ukrainian wheat accounts for 10% of global supplies.
In a survey of U.S. consumers conducted monthly by Purdue University, shoppers are increasingly bargain hunting at the supermarket to deal with inflation. The percentage of people surveyed in July who said they were looking for sales and discounts was about 28 percent. Weekly food spending rose to $191 per week in July, up 3 percent from June, according to the survey.
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