Supermarket prices rose another 0.3% last month, driven in part by jumps in the cost of beef and pork, but food inflation continues to ease from the spikes shoppers saw in 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday.
The cost of eating at home is still 20.3% higher than it was in February 2022, although monthly increases in grocery prices have been moderating since prices jumped 1.3% in July. Grocery prices rose 0.5% in December and 0.4% in January.
Egg prices, which have soared over the past year amid an outbreak of avian flu, dropped 6.7% last month after rising 8.5% in January. The cost of eggs is still up 55.4% from a year ago.
The overall Consumer Price Index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in February, driven largely by an increase in housing costs, and is now up 6% year over year.
President Joe Biden said in a statement that the February CPI shows "annual inflation is down by a third from this summer at a time when the unemployment rate remains near a 50-year low. That is the slowest annual increase since September 2021."
But congressional Republicans used the CPI to criticize Biden for proposing new tax increases in his fiscal 2024 budget proposal. "At the back of the line are America’s seniors on a fixed income, who are already struggling to pay for groceries and gas thanks to Biden’s inflation crisis," said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith, R-Mo.
At the back of the line are America’s seniors on a fixed income, who are already struggling to pay for groceries and gas thanks to Biden’s inflation crisis.
Outside the meat case, food prices generally rose relatively modestly or not at all in February.
Beef prices rose 0.6% and the cost of pork was up 0.7% last month, despite a drop in the price of bacon. But poultry prices were up just 0.1%, the same increase consumers saw in dairy prices.
Prices for fruits and vegetables edged up 0.2%, while the cost of cereal and bakery products was 0.3% higher.
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