Grocery prices dropped 0.3% in March, the first decline since September 2020, as consumers benefited from lower costs for a wide range of foods, including meat, dairy products, and fruits and vegetables.

The overall Consumer Price Index was up 0.1% in March, driven by higher costs for housing, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday. Energy costs were also down 3.5%.  

Despite the March decline in supermarket prices, the CPI for eating at home is still up 8.4% over March 2022. The overall CPI is 5% higher year over year.

USDA’s Economic Research Service is forecasting food prices will rise 7.5% in 2023, well above the historical average food inflation of 2% a year.  

Still, President Joe Biden said in a statement that the March CPI “shows continued progress in our fight against inflation with the 12-month inflation rate at the lowest level since May 2021.

“This progress follows last week’s news that our job market remains historically strong,” Biden added. “Inflation has now fallen by 45% from its summer peak. Gas prices are down more than $1.40 from the summer, and grocery prices fell in the month of March for the first time since September 2020.”

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Egg prices, which skyrocketed last year due to the avian flu outbreak, tumbled 10.4% in March, their second straight decline, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Beef prices were down 0.3% in March, the cost of pork dropped 1.1%, and chicken prices declined 0.6%. 

Milk prices fell 1% in March, while the cost of fruits and vegetables dropped 1.3%.  

Prices for cereals and bakery products continued to increase last month, rising 0.6%. The price of bread was up 0.4%.

Republicans continue to blame Biden's policies for inflation, noting the year-over-year increase in consumer costs. 

The March CPI report "once again shows the painful staying power of the record high inflation brought to the American people by President Biden’s reckless spending.  While the Biden Administration pretends the economy is on the mend, Americans continue to pay the price for their failed economic policies," said House Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington, R-Texas. 

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