WASHINGTON, Dec. 23, 2014 - Agriculture Department economists today lowered their estimate for food inflation this year despite big increases in the price of beef, pork and eggs.

USDA’s Economic Research Service projects that food prices will wind up 2.25 percent to 3.25 percent higher this year than in 2013, closer to the long-term trend.

ERS previously estimated the food inflation this year at 2.5 to 3.5 percent. Food prices have increased by an average of 2.6 percent a year over the last 20 years.

In its monthly price forecast, ERS cited “the outlook for commodity prices, animal inventories, and ongoing export trends" in trimming the overall inflation estimate.

The new forecast raised 2014 inflation estimates for pork and eggs but lowered them for vegetables and cereal and bakery products.

Pork prices fell 2.1 percent in November but are still up 9.9 percent from last year, ERS said. Egg prices rose 2.8 percent in November and are now up 6.2 percent from a year ago.

For 2015, USDA is projecting slightly lower inflation overall -- 2 to 3 percent -- despite continued pressure on beef and pork prices because of the continued tight supplies.