Supermarket prices for fresh fruits and vegetables fell last month on rising production of apples, pears and other crops, leading a slowing in retail food inflation from sharp upswings earlier this year, government data showed.
Nationwide, average retail fresh fruit and vegetable prices during October fell 2.7 % from September, the first month-over-month decline since June, according to updated data released Nov. 16 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Compared with October 2010, fruit and vegetable prices rose 4.9%, after posting an average year-over-year increase of 7.3% over the previous three months.
Fruit and vegetable prices have eased after a sharp surge earlier this year stemming from cold weather that cut production of tomatoes, oranges and other crops. More recently, apple supplies have increased over 2010 levels in part because Michigan produced strong crop, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Among specific products, red delicious apples averaged $1.41 a pound nationwide last month, down from $1.51 in September but up from $1.18 in October 2010, according to the updated Consumer Price Index data. Navel oranges averaged $1.39 a pound, down from $1.44 a month earlier and up from $1.28 a year earlier.
Field-grown tomatoes averaged $1.47 a pound, down from $1.50 a month earlier and little-changed from a year earlier.
Fresh produce remains pricier than recent years, contributing to food inflation that’s on track for one of the largest annual increase over the past two decades, according to CPI data.
For the full year, fresh produce inflation is expected to rise 3.5% to 4.5% in 2011 and increase another 3% to 4% in 2012, according to a USDA forecast. Prices rose 0.6% last year after falling 4.6% in 2009.
Broader retail measures from the Labor Department showed costs for food eaten at home rose 0.1% last month compared with September and rose 6.2% compared with October 2010.