UNDATED (WJON News) - Last week, the U.S. Government released the Consumer Price Index, showing an inflation rate of 3.2 percent in March.

Agriculture officials were quick to show that the larger-than-expected number was not due to what we’re paying for food at home.

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The Food Price Outlook from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows the food-at-home index (grocery store purchases) was up 0.1% from January to February, and up 1% from February of 2023.

Takeaways from the report:

Food prices at grocery stores are expected to decelerate through the end of 2024, compared to recent years.

Prices declined or remained steady for meat, poultry, and fish. The price for beef and veal were unchanged between January and February of 2024, after climbing more than 7 percent since February of 2023. Pork prices were down 0.6% for the month and 1.6% for the year. Poultry prices were down 1.3% for the month and almost unchanged for the year.

Prices climbed for eggs (+0.5%), sugar and sweets (+0.6%), and cereals and bakery products (+0.6%).

Spotlight on business:

The pause coincides with the release of a Biden administration report questioning rising food prices. The report from the Federal Trade Commission is critical of the profit margin expansion at grocery stores since the pandemic. Retail grocery store’s net revenue grew to more than 6% in 2021 and more than 7% in 2022. Both margins were higher than the previous record-high profit margin of 5.6% set in 2015.

Economists have called some post-pandemic growth “seller’s inflation”. Firms with a lot of market power in concentrated industries can raise prices without concern about competitors’ reactions.



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