If you’re headed to the grocery store anytime soon, you better stock up – high prices are predicted to stay. The latest USDA consumer price index for food shows that while a few foodstuffs slowed down on price from July to August, there is zero promise for food prices to retreat for the rest of 2022, but price roar is predicted to head toward more of a whimper in 2023.
And the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) mirrors the USDA research, too. The BLS lists the cost of food-at-home as up substantially – 13.5% higher than a year ago – while food-away-from-home is up only 8%.
Aisle by aisle
Meats: In the meat section, consumers saved a few pennies on the price of beef, pork, and seafood from July to August. Overall, prices softened 0.2%, which basically equates to a pound of pork boneless half loin dropping about 10 cents. Still, Americans are still paying 8.9% more for meat than they did a year ago and that is expected to finish out the year at a 10.5% price hike. By 2023, the agency predicts the price of meat will grow somewhere between 2-3%.
Eggs: No one knows who made the chickens mad, but they’re holding back on egg production. Overall, the price of a dozen eggs has risen nearly 40% in the last year, although only 2.9% from July to August. The USDA says by the end of 2022, egg prices will likely climb to a 27% increase from the beginning of the year, but next year are predicted to flatten out.
Dairy products: Year over year, dairy products are up 16.2%, rising 0.7% from July to August. The USDA prediction for the year-end rise is 12-13% and up as much as 2.5% for 2023.
Fruits and vegetables: Since summer production is usually pretty robust for fruits and veggies, the prices for those products barely moved the needle. Prices were up 0.4% from July to August, and the rest of year should shake out at an overall 7-8% increase. Fruits and vegetables are the brightest hope of any aisle for 2023, too, with prices predicted to rise somewhere between 0.0% and 1%.
However, “processed” vegetables and fruits (such as salad kits, bags of cut baby carrots, pre-washed and chopped lettuce, containers of fresh sliced pineapple, canned corn, etc.) are likely to be a price concern for consumers. Overall, that category is up 14.2% year over year and predicted to finish up 2022 at an 11% bump, with another 2-3% hike in 2023.
Ukraine, Russia… and now, India
The war between Russia and Ukraine continues to impact American grocery shoppers. For example, fats and oils. From August 2021 to August 2022, the price of fats and oils has skyrocketed by 21%.
There are also other countries that are higher in the pecking order for Russia and Ukraine than the U.S. is. Ukraine and Russia export agricultural and chemical products to many trading partners around the globe. Take corn exports – more than a third of Ukraine’s corn exports are destined for China.
When it comes to wheat, the dominant force is Russia which sends 40% of its wheat to Egypt and Turkey. In the past when wheat production was an issue, the U.S. (and other countries) were able to count on India to fill in the gap. Unfortunately, a heat wave late in the growing season reduced India’s wheat production, leading its government to impose an export ban to ensure sufficient supplies were available to satisfy demand inside the country.