( USDA )

Retail food price inflation is expected to be flat in 2018 and inch only modestly higher in 2019, according to a new report.

For 2018, retail food prices are expected to rise between zero and 1%, according to the USDA, well below the 20-year historical average of 2.1%.

Looking to 2019, the USDA said retail price growth may continue to remain low. The agency said retail food-at-home prices are expected rise between 1% and 2% in 2019. If retail prices changes fall in that range, 2019 will be the fourth straight year with deflation or lower-than-average inflation, the agency said.

Fresh vegetable prices fell 0.3% from August to September and are 0.8% higher than in September last year.

The monthly dip in prices for fresh vegetables was primarily driven by a 2.4% decrease in the price for potatoes and a 0.9% decrease in lettuce prices, according to the agency. Fresh vegetable prices are expected to change between zero and 1% in 2018 and increase 2.5% to 3.5% in 2019.

Meanwhile, retail prices for fresh fruits rose 1% from August to September and are up 0.3% compared with September a year ago.

Despite falling prices for apples and citrus fruits, banana prices were 0.4% higher, and other fresh fruit prices were up 4.7% from August to September.

The USDA expects fresh fruit prices to increase between 1.5% to 2.5% in 2018 and increase 2% to 3% in 2019. 

 
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