Grocery store food prices over the last few months have shown small increases, but prices actually dipped slightly from October to November, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture economist Gianna Short.
“Food at home prices decreased 0.3% from October to November,” Short relayed but noted, however, that food prices are higher than they were last year. “Food at home prices are still up 1% since November of last year,” she said.
Prices for most food items were pretty much steady, but potato prices raised a few eyebrows, dropping by more than 8%. “This is a little bit of a surprise. Weather conditions in the potato growing regions have not been great this year,” Short said.
Production will be about 6% smaller than 2018, and “to see a dip in the prices when supplies are not super high is a little bit of a mystery at the moment,” she added.
Food index rises slightly
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its latest Consumer Price Index report, which showed only an 0.1% increase in November following an 0.2% rise the prior month. The index for food consumed at home also rose 0.1%, after increasing 0.3% in October. Four of the six major grocery store food group indexes increased in November, BLS reported.
The index for dairy and related products rose 0.6% over the month. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs and cereals and bakery products also increased in November. Pork prices alone rose 1.3% over the past month, and while beef and veal prices rose 0.3%, poultry prices fell 0.3% during the month.
The index for other food consumed at home was unchanged over the month, while the index for food consumed away from home rose 0.2% in November, as it did in October. BLS reported that the index of food consumed away from home has increased every month since being unchanged in June 2017. The food at home index increased 1.0% over the last 12 months.
The report further pointed out that all of the major grocery store food group indexes rose over the period, with increases ranging from 0.4% (for both the other food at home index and the fruits and vegetables index) to 2.6% (for the dairy and related products index).
The index for food consumed away from home rose 3.2% over the last year, as the index for full-service meals increased 3.6% and the index for limited-service meals rose 3.0%.
This piece originally appeared on Feedstuffs, a Supermarket News sister website.