(The Center Square) - Recently released federal pricing analysis from the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that food prices will continue to rise through 2024.
The USDA pointed to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index released earlier this month, which showed consumer prices overall rose 3.2 percent in the previous twelve months. Food prices, though rose more quickly at 4.9 percent during the same time.
Now, USDA says that increase will continue.
"Food prices are expected to grow more slowly in 2023 than in 2022 but still at above historical-average rates," USDA said in its analysis. "In 2023, all food prices are predicted to increase 5.9 percent, with a prediction interval of 5.3 percent to 6.5 percent. Food-at-home prices are predicted to increase 5.2 percent, with a prediction interval of 4.4 percent to 6.1 percent. Food-away-from-home prices are predicted to increase 7.1 percent, with a prediction interval of 6.8 percent to 7.5 percent."
Food prices are rising more slowly than the fever pitch inflation spike earlier in the Biden administration, but those prices are still increasing.
"Food prices are expected to continue to decelerate but not decline in 2024," USDA said. "In 2024, all food prices are predicted to increase 2.8 percent, with a prediction interval of -2.0 percent to 7.9 percent. Food-at-home prices are predicted to increase 2.1 percent, with a prediction interval of -5.1 percent to 9.9 percent, and food-away-from-home prices are predicted to increase 5.1 percent, with a prediction interval of 2.7 percent to 7.5 percent."
Food costs soared in particular in 2022, rising by 9.9 percent. While 2022 saw the largest spike, prices had already begun rising earlier in the Biden administration.
Food prices rose noticeably in 2020, increasing by more than 3 percent while some categories like meat became even more expensive than that.
"The largest price increases were for meat categories: beef and veal prices increased by 9.6 percent, pork prices by 6.3 percent, and poultry prices by 5.6 percent," USDA said. "The only category to decrease in price in 2020 was fresh fruits, by 0.8 percent."
In 2021, the price of food-at-home rose 3.5 percent while the food-away-from-home prices rose 4.5 percent. Once again, beef saw a spike in cost, though all categories became more expensive.
"Of all the CPI food-at-home categories tracked by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Economic Research Service (ERS), the beef and veal category had the largest relative price increase (9.3 percent) and the fresh vegetables category the smallest (1.1 percent)," USDA said. "No food categories decreased in price in 2021 compared with their prices in 2020."
As The Center Square previously reported, U.S. lawmakers are gearing up to renew the "farm bill" legislation, a major spending package focused mostly on agricultural issues.
That spending package, which normally authorizes five years of funds, could top a trillion dollars this time around. The existing farm bill expires Sept. 30 of this year.