Monthly Inflation for Grocery Store Items the Biggest in 30 Years

Posted on Fri, 05/22/2020 - 11:30

USDA’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell 0.7 points from March to April, with the gauge of economy-wide inflation now up 0.3% from year-ago levels, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS). The CPI for all food climbed 1.5 points from March to April, with food prices now up 3.5% from year-ago levels.

ERS details that the CPI for restaurant purchased rose 0.1 points during April to stand 2.8% above year-ago levels. The CPI for grocery store items rose 2.7 points from March to April to stand 4.1% above year-ago levels. The month to month increase in food at home prices was bigger than any month since 1990.

“For the past several years, inflation for food-at-home prices had been slower than for food-away-from-home prices; however, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have ended that trend,” ERS explains.

Four months into 2020, food at home prices have climbed 1.8% and restaurant purchases have increased 1.9%, ERS reports. Of the food items it tracks, eggs have seen the biggest relative price increase (7.4%) while fresh fruits have seen the biggest price decrease (1.7%).

Covid-19 disruptions prompted ERS to raise its forecast for food at home prices, with the agency now calling for a 2.0% to 3.0% increase in 2020. In April, ERS was still calling for food at home prices to climb 0.5% to 1.5% This would be a big jump from the 0.9% rise registered in 2019, and it would be more in line with the 20-year historical average increase of 2%.

ERS maintained its forecast for food-away-from-home prices to climb between 1.5% and 2.5% in 2020. The historical average is for a 2.8% increase.