Grocery prices soared another 1.3% in July, led by continued increases for dairy products, baked goods and other items, and are up 13.1% over the past year, the largest increase in supermarket costs in more than 43 years.
Despite the jump in food costs, the Consumer Price Index was unchanged in July, reflecting in part the recent drop in gasoline prices. The CPI is a measure of the overall cost of living.
July's 1.3% rise in supermarket prices is their largest increase since they rose 1.5% in March. Food costs have gone up by at least 1% every month this year.
The 13.1% increase in the cost of eating at home over the past 12 months was the largest increase since the 12-month period ending in March 1979.
Dairy prices jumped another 1.7% in July, while the cost of cereal and bakery products rose 1.8%, led in part by a 2.8% jump in the the price of bread.
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Beef prices were flat in July and the cost of pork fell 0.2%. But prices for chicken rose 1.4% and the cost of eggs jumped another 4.3% last month. Poultry and egg prices have soared in recent months following a widespread outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza this spring.
Coffee prices were another factor in food inflation last month, rising 3.5%.
The cost of fruits and vegetables rose just 0.5%; potatoes cost 3.3% more in July but citrus prices 3.2% and tomato prices fell 2.5%.
A monthly survey of U.S. consumers by Purdue University released Wednesday indicated shoppers are doing more bargain hunting at the supermarket to cope with inflation. About 28% of those surveyed in July said they were looking for sales and discounts. Weekly food spending rose 3% from June to $191 per week in July, the survey found.
“Shopping discounts and generics is a clear sign of budget consciousness among consumers,” said Purdue economist Jayson Lusk. “After increasing for several months in the first half of the year, food expenditures are now remaining relatively consistent. This indicates consumers have become more concerned with finding ways to keep their grocery bills from rising any higher.”
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