Rising the most of any food group, fruit and vegetable prices in December climbed 0.6%, according to the latest Consumer Price Index report from the Department of Commerce.
The increase for fruits and vegetables was the seventh increase in the last nine months, according to the report.
Compared with the end of 2011, the statistics show that fresh fruit prices were on average 5.5% higher than a year ago, led by a 13.3% increase in the average price for apples. Banana prices for 2012 were unchanged compared with 2011 and citrus prices were up 3.2%.
However, consumer fresh vegetable prices at the end of 2012 were off 1.2% compared with the end of 2011, swung lower by a 7.4% decline in average potato prices and a 3.2% drop in average lettuce prices. Consumer prices for tomatoes were 4.8% higher at the end of 2012 compared with December 2011, according to government statistics.
The Consumer Price Index report showed the overall food price index rose 0.2% in December for the third month in a row, while the index for food at home rose 0.2% in December after climbing 0.3% in the previous two months, according to the report.
The Consumer Price Index for all Americans was unchanged in December, according to the report. For all of 2012, the consumer price index increased 1.7%, down from a 3% increase in 2011. That rate of increase is down from the 10-year average of 2.4% and is the third smallest increase in ten years.
For the year, the inflation index for food rose 1.8% in 2012, down from 4.7% in 2011. The index rose just 1.3% for food at home in 2012, down from 6% in 2011. Meanwhile, the index for food away from home rose 2.5% in 2012, down from 2.9% in 2011.