Food prices climbed one percent in March, the same amount as February, according to the most recent consumer price index (CPI) report. While one percent may seem insignificant, this is the fifteenth consecutive month food prices have risen.
In the month of March, the food at home index went up by 1.5 percent, reflecting increases for all six major grocery store food group indexes. For example, the index for cereals and bakery products as well as the index for fruits and vegetables rose 1.5 percent over March. Meanwhile, the index for meats, poultry, fish and eggs increased one percent in March. Other food at home showed the largest increase for the month at two percent.
Over the past year, the food at home index has increased 10 percent, representing the index’s greatest 12-month increase since March 1981. All six of the major grocery store food group indexes rose over this period, with increases ranging from seven percent (dairy and related products) to 13.7 percent (meats, poultry, fish and eggs).
Aside from grocery prices, the food away from home index went up 0.3 percent in March. The index for full-service meals rose 0.7 percent , while the index for limited-service meals declined 0.2 percent over the month of March, representing the first decrease for limited-service meals since October 2018.
The food away from home index has increased 6.9 percent over the past year, the category’s largest 12-month increase since December 1981. The index for full-service meals rose eight percent during this period, while the index for limited-service meals increased 7.2 percent.
Unfortunately, food prices in both indexes are unlikely to fall any time soon. Per the newly updated March 2022 report on food prices from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), all food prices are expected to increase in the coming months.
The USDA report specified that grocery prices are slated to jump between three and four percent, while the food away from home index will increase between 5.5 and 6.5 percent for the remainder of 2022, adding to recent price increases that most consumers have already experienced.
For several reasons, certain foods will see larger price increases than others. Topping the list with the largest increase compared to 2021 is beef and veal. While that category is now slated to see a 3.4 percent bump in 2022, beef and veal prices have risen an alarming 16.2 percent since last year.
“Following large price increases in January and February, forecast ranges for fats and oils, fresh fruits, processed fruits and vegetables, sugars and sweets, cereals and bakery products, nonalcoholic beverages and other foods have been adjusted upward,” the report from the USDA stated.
While consumers are witnessing price increases across the board, food producers are also under pressure. The producer price index (PPI) report revealed that food costs climbed 2.4 percent from February, the largest increase since May 2021. The jump was driven by significant increases in prices for cooking oils, grains, pork and vegetables, suggesting the closely watched CPI will soon reflect such advances.