Lower energy costs in April helped hold the Consumer Price Index steady despite a 1% increase in price index for fruits and vegetables.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the 1.7% decline in energy costs offset increases in food, which saw five of the six major grocery store food group indexes increase. The index for fruits and vegetables posted the largest increase of any food group, rising 1% percent in April after a series of declines, according to the report.
Cereal and bakery products rose 0.4%, while the index for meats, poultry, fish and eggs rose 0.1%. The index for dairy fell 1% in April, the third straight decline.
Despite the April increase, the report said the fruits and vegetables food group is the only one to decline over the past 12 months, falling 1.7% compared with a year ago.
Average price data reported by the bureau showed retail tomato prices in April were $1.39 per pound, down from $1.45 per pound in March and sharply off from $2.27 per pound in April 2011.
The average price for red delicious apples in April was $1.26 per pound, down from $1.28 per pound in March and lower than the $1.35 per pound average a year ago. Navel oranges averaged 91 cents per pound, up from 85 cents in March but down from 93 cents a year ago.
Banana prices were also lower than a year ago, with the April price of 60 cents per pound off from 62 cents a year ago.
The report said the food-at- home price index has risen 3.3% in the past year, compared with a 2.9% increase for food-away-from home.