Food Prices take Memorial Day dip

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, May 27, 2013 - The cost of the average Memorial Day grill-out may be coming down according to data from the Economic Research Service. 

Lets Talk Food

Using data from the Department of Labor, the ERS determined that the price of the average home-cooked cheeseburger was found to vary seasonally, usually decreasing in February, May, and June while reaching annual peaks in November or December. Most of the seasonal variation is due to the changes in beef prices.

Seeing trends continue in 2013 is a bit of a surprise due to the effects of the 2012 drought and the drop that drought caused in the total cattle herd. Even through a historic drought and reactionary drop in the cattle herd, beef prices are maintaining their normal trends. 

“We expected by now to see much stronger effects, especially for animal based products,” Ricky Volpe, USDA economist, said. “We did observe ... surges in prices for most of these categories, certainly for beef. Most of these by now have tapered off or even reversed a little bit. If you look at the big picture ... we're really not seeing any drought affect at all, at least not yet.”

Even though meat prices are down before the unofficial start of grilling season, those prices have been slowly increasing in the last decade. The April 2013 cost of $2.07 for a home-prepared cheeseburger is up 61 percent since 2000, while overall food-at-home prices have increased 41 percent in that time. Much of that difference is due to the strong beef price inflation of recent years resulting from low cattle inventories - the lowest recorded herd size since 1952 -  and high feed prices.

Cheeseburgers aren't the only food item to see a price drop - far from it according to the ERS. Poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, cereals, bakery products, and nonalcoholic beverages are also predicted to take drops in cost in 2013.

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