Supermarket prices rose another 0.7% last month, driven by increases in nearly every category, and food costs are now up 13% over the past year.
The increase in grocery costs helped drive a 0.4% rise last month in the Consumer Price Index, which had increased just 0.1% in August.
The produce aisle saw some of the biggest price increases in September. The fruit and vegetable index jumped 1.6%, led by a 6.8% increase in the price of lettuce and 5% rise in apple prices. Potato prices rose 3.5%.
The meat index rose 0.7%, driven by a 1.8% increase in pork prices and a 0.6% rise in poultry prices. Beef prices remained relatively stable, declining 0.1% in September. Egg prices, which have jumped 30.5% over the past 12 months due to an outbreak of avian influenza that forced some farms to be depopulated, fell 3.5% last month.
The index for cereal and bakery products rose 0.9%, while dairy prices were 0.3% higher in September.
Prices also were higher for sugar and sweets, up 1.8%, and fats and oils, up 1.2%.
An official with the Food Marketing Institute, which represents major supermarket chains, linked the continued food price increases to "spikes in costs due to labor, lower capacity production disruptions, transportation demands, and global conflicts."
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"Today’s numbers make it clear that there is still work to be done to address these issues," Andy Harig, FMI's vice president for tax, trade, Sustainability and policy development, said in a statement.
"Many of these factors remain outside of our power to influence, but the food industry is collaborating throughout the entire supply chain to secure consumer-centric progress on prices, all while the grocery industry maintains a net 1-2% profit margin (which has been consistent for more than two decades),"
Higher costs for shelter and medical care also contributed to the September increase in the CPI, which is up 8.2% over the past 12 months. Gasoline prices fell during the month by 4.9%.
It was the last CPI report before the Nov. 8 elections, in which control of the House and Senate are at stake. Republicans are making inflation a major issue in their campaigns.
“Health care costs rose nearly 30% in the last year, the largest increase on record. Rent prices saw the largest hike ever recorded as well. Joe Biden’s cruel economy is just getting worse," said Rep. Kevin Brady, the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee.
The White House said President Joe Biden got a briefing from his economic advisers Thursday on the global economy. "Despite global economic challenges associated with elevated inflation throughout the world, they reported that the United States remains in a strong position to bring down inflation and maintain a resilient job market. Moreover, President Biden's economic plan continues to position the U.S. economy for stronger growth and investment in the United States," a White House statement said.
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