Vegans Rejoice: Meat Prices Rising More Than Fresh Fruits and Vegetables – Real Time Economics

It’s a good time to be a vegan. Meat prices are up 9.4% in June from a year earlier, and pork, fish and eggs are more expensive, too.

Prices for the food Americans buy in grocery stores were flat in June and up 2.4% from a year ago, the Labor Department said Tuesday. But that comes after a run-up in prices earlier this year, when what Americans pay for food at home rose between 0.4% and 0.7% over the past six months.

“In general, we are still seeing higher inflation among the foods located in the peripheral of the grocery store — meats, produce, dairy, etc.,” said Annemarie Kuhns, an economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Non-perishable foods have had lower rates of inflation in recent months, she added.

Food prices have been ticking higher after a series of factors that, when taken together, dramatically reduce supply.

So far this year, a drought in Oklahoma and Texas has driven up cattle prices. A virus has killed millions of piglets and pushed up pork costs. Most of the shrimp eaten in the U.S. comes from Southeast Asia, where a bacterial infection has devastated inventory. A disease known as citrus greening is killing Florida’s orange and grapefruit trees.

Beef and veal prices were up 10.4% in June from a year ago, and prices for pork chops alone rose 14.3%, the largest increase since December 1990. Seafood-lovers paid 9.1% more for fresh fish and seafood from a year ago. And egg prices rose 8.6% over the year.

Vegetarian-friendly foods rose as well, but less than the prices for omnivores. Overall fresh fruit and vegetable prices rose 3% in June from a year earlier, driven by a 12.2% gain in citrus fruits. (Prices are falling for orange juice, however, but that is likely because Americans are drinking more exotic juices and flavored waters.)

Prices for lettuce rose 4.6% in June from a year ago, the largest gain since November 2013. Strong demand domestically and abroad is the “main factor” driving up lettuce prices, Ms. Kuhns said.

Still, the monthly gain in overall food prices “is pretty moderate after a four-month streak of 0.4%-to-0.5% gains,” said Jennifer Lee at BMO Capital Markets.

Consumers’ habits could have also kept prices somewhat level in June. If beef was too expensive, a shopper might buy chicken instead, for example.

“Substitution effect? Possibly,” Ms. Lee added.

A Labor Department analyst cautioned food price fluctuations can be particularly volatile, given the small sample size for many of the items in the consumer-price index report.



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22 July 2014 | 7:38 pm – Source:

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