Food price inflation higher for restaurants


Overall inflation in the U.S. economy was running hotter than food inflation in August, government numbers reveal.

The all-items Consumer Price Index, a measure of economy-wide inflation, increased by 0.2% from July 2021 to August 2021 before seasonal adjustment, up 5.3% from August 2020. The CPI for all food increased 0.4% from July 2021 to August 2021, and food prices were 3.7% higher than in August 2020, according to the USDA’s Food Price Outlook report.

The level of food price inflation varies depending on whether the food was purchased for consumption away from home or at home, according to the agency:

  • The food-away-from-home (restaurant purchases) CPI increased 0.4% in August 2021 and was 4.7% higher than August 2020; and
  • The food-at-home (grocery store or supermarket food purchases) CPI increased 0.3% from July 2021 to August 2021 and was 3.0%higher than August 2020.

In 2021 thus far compared to 2020, the USDA said food-at-home prices have increased 2.1% and food-away-from-home prices have increased 3.3%. For 2021, the CPI for all food has increased an average of 2.7%, the USDA said. Of all the CPI food-at-home categories tracked, pork has had the largest relative price increase (5.4%) and fresh vegetables the smallest (0.5%). No food categories have decreased in price in 2021 compared to 2020, the USDA said.

In 2021, food-at-home prices are expected to increase between 2.5% and 3.5%, and food-away-from-home prices are expected to increase between 3.5% and 4.5%. In 2022, food-at-home prices are expected to increase between 1.5% and 2.5%, and food-away-from-home prices are expected to increase between 3% and 4%.

In 2020, food-at-home prices increased 3.5% and food-away-from-home prices 3.4%, the report said.

This convergence, the agency said, was largely driven by a rapid increase in food-at-home prices, while food-away-from-home price inflation remained within 0.2% of the 2019 inflation rate. The largest price increases were for meat categories: beef and veal prices increased by 9.6%, pork prices by 6.3%, and poultry prices by 5.6%. The only category to decrease in price in 2020 was fresh fruits by 0.8%.



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