Supermarket prices jumped another 1% in October and are up 5.4% over the past year as food continues to contribute to the worst inflation consumers have seen in decades.
Overall, the Consumer Price Index rose 0.9% in October and is up 6.2% over the past year, the largest increase for a 12-month period since 1991, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday.
Higher prices for energy, housing, used cars and trucks also were major contributors to the increase. Gasoline prices alone increased 6.1% in October, leading to an overall increase of 4.8% in energy costs.
President Joe Biden addressed the issue Wednesday during a tour of the Port of Baltimore. He said the newly passed infrastructure bill would help address supply chain issues that are contributing to the price increases.
"We’re already in the midst of a historic economic recovery. And thanks to those steps we’re taking, very soon we’re going to see the supply chain start catching up with demand," Biden said. "So not only will we see more record-breaking job growth, we’ll see lower prices and faster deliveries as well."
Prices for all major food groups were up in October, although the increases for dairy products and for fruits and vegetables were relatively small.
Prices for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs led the way, rising 1.7% last month on the heels of a 2.2% increase in September. Beef prices alone were up 3.1% in October.
Prices for cereals and bakery products rose 1% in October, following a 1.1% increase the month before.
Prices for nonalcoholic beverages were up 0.8% last month. Prices for dairy products rose 0.2%, and fruits and vegetables cost on average 0.1% more in October.
Overall, supermarket prices had risen 1.2% in September.
USDA's Economic Research Service is forecasting that grocery prices will be about 3% higher for 2021, with some moderation coming in 2022, when the increase is expected to be between 1.5% and 2.5%.
ERS said in its latest Food Price Outlook that prices for beef and other types of meat are up because of "strong domestic and international demand, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, and high feed and other input costs." Prices for both beef and pork are expected to be about 7% higher than they were in 2020.
Republican lawmakers used the latest CPI to criticize Biden's handling of the economy.
"This is a disaster for families and working people," tweeted Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.
“Biden-flation is here to stay so long as those on the left continue to throw gasoline on the fire with their reckless taxing, reckless borrowing, and reckless spending agenda. Biden-flation is hurting every hard working American, but none more than our seniors and families living paycheck to paycheck," Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., said in a statement.
The White House sought to shift the focus to the newly passed infrastructure bill and Biden's Build Back Better plan, which would enable Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices and help families with the cost of child care and other expenses.
"We now need to tackle inflation, supply chains, making sure there are workers available for the jobs that haven't been filled. … We have a lot of work left to do, and that’s what we’re working on," said White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain.
The Build Back Better bill is now awaiting action in the House and is expected to be scaled back in the Senate.For more news, go to Agri-Pulse.com.