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Food Prices Increase in October, at Slower Pace

New York Times writer Ana Swanson reported yesterday that, “Food prices continued to grow in October, inflating grocery bills for American households, though at a slightly slower pace than in previous months. The price of food rose 0.6 percent last month, down from 0.8 percent growth in September.

“While prices of some items have retreated after spiking earlier this year, others are reaching fresh highs. The price of cereals and bakery products climbed 0.8 percent from the previous month, driven by a 2 percent increase in the price of flour. Lunch meats rose 3.4 percent from September and lettuce increased by 3.3 percent. The price of eggs, which have been inflated this year because of an outbreak of avian flu, soared 10.1 percent on the month.

“But the price of some products began to fall after peaking earlier this year. The price of frankfurters fell 2.3 percent. Whole milk fell 0.9 percent, and fresh fruits declined 2.4 percent.”

Swanson added that, “On an annual basis, the food index rose 10.9 percent, down slightly compared with the pace of growth last month.”

Restaurant prices have also risen, outpacing the price gains at grocery stores in recent months, due in part to rising costs for labor,” the Times article said.

More broadly, Bloomberg writer Reade Pickert reported yesterday that, “US inflation cooled in October by more than forecast, offering hope that the fastest price increases in decades are ebbing and giving Federal Reserve officials room to slow down their steep interest-rate hikes.

“US Inflation Slows More Than Forecast, Gives Fed Downshift Room,” by Reade Pickert. Bloomberg News (November 10, 2022).

The consumer price index was up 7.7% from a year earlier, the smallest annual advance since the start of the year and down from 8.2% in September, according to a Labor Department report Thursday.”

Also yesterday, Bloomberg writer Martine Paris reported that,

Any way you slice it, this Thanksgiving is going to cost more.

Price increases for flour and cookies hit a record high year-over-year for October, US government data showed Thursday. Eggs jumped the most since 2007. Turkey and other non-chicken poultry were up 17%.”

Paris explained that, “It’s all part of historic food inflation that’s hammering consumers also grappling with sky-high prices for everything from fuel to housing. The war in Ukraine is upending global supply chains, while the ongoing bird flu outbreak is decimating egg-laying hens and turkeys. Scarcity and surging prices may trigger a shift in buying habits ahead of the holidays, according to Russell Barton, a director at commodity researcher Urner Barry.”

The Bloomberg article pointed out that, “As avian flu wreaks havoc on bird supply in parts of the US, Iowa Senator Charles Grassley and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar have pushed for more funding to mitigate the outbreak. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said last week that even though it might be challenging to find a 20-pound turkey in certain locations because there hasn’t been time for them to grow, he’s confident there will be turkeys available to carve. ‘It may be smaller, but it will be there,’ he said.”

Keith Good Photo

Keith Good is the Farm Policy News editor for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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