USDA and BLS Reports on Food and Energy Price Changes for 2012

Today I am featuring USDA and BLS reports recapping food price increases of 2012 (in the U.S.). Part 1 is from the USDA and part 2 is from the BLS.

Overall food-at-home prices rose 2.6 percent in 2012, but this masked a great deal of variation across food categories.

For the second consecutive year, beef and fats and oils showed the biggest percentage increases.

Beef prices increased due to record low cattle inventories, while surging soybean prices pushed up prices for fats and oils.

Poultry prices also increased substantially in 2012, due to a shift in demand away from high-priced beef and pork coupled with higher costs for broiler feed resulting from the Midwest drought.

Pork prices, which saw major inflation in 2011, were flat in 2012 as wholesale prices fell due to rising hog inventories and falling exports.

Vegetable prices fell 5.1 percent in 2012 as the unusually warm weather led to bumper crops for lettuce, tomatoes, and other vegetables, in sharp contrast to the poor harvests and high vegetable prices of 2011.

Next, are year-end quotes from the BLS on food and energy price inflation for 2012. Note that BLS data varies somewhat from USDA data on food prices.

Year in Review

The CPI rose 1.7 percent in 2012 after a 3.0 percent increase in 2011. This was the third smallest December-December increase of the past ten years and compares to a 2.4 percent average annual increase over the span.

The energy index increased 0.5 percent in 2012, a sharp deceleration from its 6.6 percent increase in 2011.

The gasoline index rose 1.7 percent in 2012 after increasing 13.8 percent in 2010 and 9.9 percent in 2011.

The household energy index declined in 2012, falling 1.1 percent after increasing 1.8 percent in 2011.

The fuel oil index rose 3.6 percent in 2012, but the electricity index decreased 0.5 percent and the index for natural gas fell 2.9 percent, the fourth straight year it has declined.

The index for food rose 1.8 percent in 2012, a deceleration from its 4.7 percent increase in 2011.

The index for food at home rose 1.3 percent in 2012 compared to 6.0 percent in 2011.

Five of the six major grocery store food group indexes rose in 2012, with increases ranging from 0.5 percent (dairy and related products) to 2.0 percent (other food at home).

The nonalcoholic beverages group was the only index to decline, falling 0.2 percent.

The index for food away from home rose 2.5 percent in 2012 after increasing 2.9 percent in 2011.

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