Food Prices Continue to Climb, Per Labor Dept. Data

New data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that inflation continues to impact the grocery sector.
Zachary Russell
Associate Editor
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CPI data

Food prices continue to rise, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

First covered by Store Brands’ sister publication Progressive Grocer, the data published on May 11 showed the Consumer Price Index (CPI) came in 8.3% higher in April compared to the previous April, down a bit from the 8.5% rate in March. The CPI increased 0.3% during April, below the 1.2% leap that occurred from February to March. Still, the CPI for food climbed 0.9% on a monthly basis, with food-at-home costs up a full percentage point. Other sectors declined, including energy and gasoline.

Within the food-at-home category, price hikes have been led by meat, poultry, fish and eggs, up 14.3% for the 12-month period and 1.4% for the month. The CPI for eggs alone surged 10.3% in April.

Dairy and related products edged up 2.5% for a monthly segment gain not seen since mid-2007. The index for nonalcoholic beverages rose 2%, while cereals and bakery products swelled by 1.1%.

There was at least one price dip within food consumed at home. The CPI for fresh fruit declined 0.5% in April, as the index for fresh vegetables remained unchanged.

“The pace of price increases moderated, but not as much as expected. Excluding a decline in energy prices – which appears outdated by this point – the increases remain widespread," said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate. “With the annual rate ticking down from 8.5% to 8.3, it can be tempting to say we’ve seen the peak, but we’ve also been head-faked before as was the case last August.”

Rising prices due to inflation have proved to be beneficial for private label, as several food and nonfood categories have seen a shift from national brand to private brand among consumers.