By Danielle Wiener-Bronner, CNN Business
Inflation may be slowing just a bit, but food prices are on fire.
Food prices were 9.4% higher in April 2022 than in April 2021 – the largest annual increase in 41 years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Wednesday. Grocery prices jumped 10.8% for the year. (The prices do not reflect seasonal swings.)
A number of factors have squeezed food prices recently, ranging from bad weather to the war in Ukraine. Weather has lowered crop yields and Russia’s invasion has increased wheat and other prices.
Individual items, too, are facing unique challenges. Avocado prices soared after the US briefly suspended imports in February from Mexico’s western state of Michoacan. A few months later, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott required “enhanced safety inspections” of commercial vehicles entering Texas for a week, slowing down deliveries from across the border.
And, notably, a deadly and highly infectious avian flu has forced US farmers to kill millions of egg-laying hens, reducing the country’s egg supply and driving up prices. The damage to the egg industry hit consumers hard in April, when egg prices soared 10.3%, adjusted for seasonal changes. Without those adjustments, egg prices spiked 22.6% over the 12 months ending in April.
And those aren’t the only items that saw big increases this year.
One group that may benefit from rising cost of consumer goods? Grocers.
Meat and dairy products got much price. Bacon cost 17.7% more, and chicken prices were up by 16.4%. Butter and margarine together popped 19.2% and milk prices went up 14.7%, with fresh whole milk jumping 15.5%.
Flour prices surged by 14% and coffee by 13.5%. Fruits and vegetables also got a lot more expensive, as citrus shot up 18.6% and lettuce rose 12.7%. Even canned fruits and veggies weren’t immune: they increased 10.4%.
At restaurants, menu prices grew 7.2% for the year, as operators raised prices to offset their costs.
While the grocery aisle and your delivery app may feel bleak, there’s good news on the inflation front.
Prices overall still increased last month, but at a slower pace than in previous months. The Consumer Price Index was up 8.3% in the 12 months ended in April, a bit higher than economists had predicted but a slight decrease from the 8.5% recorded in March, the highest level since December 1981.
When will price increases be too much for Americans?
Here’s what changed in the grocery store in April
Breakfast, in particular, was a bummer. Nothing jumped quite as soon as that 22.6% spike in egg prices in April, but other items got more expensive.
Margarine was 7.1% more expensive, with butter jumping 3.7%. Milk went up 3.1%. Instant coffee got 3.7% more expensive and roasted coffee prices grew by 2.6%. Bacon got 2.5% more expensive. Breakfast cereal grew by 2.4%. Even the price of hash browns is up — potatoes got 2% more expensive.
A few items did get cheaper.
Uncooked beef steaks fell 2.1%, and the cost of ham dropped 1.8%. And the prices of shelf stable fish and seafood — canned tuna anyone? — fell 2.5%.
World Bank: High food, energy prices could last ‘for years’
— CNN Business’s Anneken Tappe contributed to this report.
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