Retail food prices in May inched ahead slightly from the year-ago period but the rate of increases dipped from April, led by lower prices for proteins, according to data released June 12 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Bureau’s Consumer Price Index for food at home fell by 0.2% in May from April, with the index for meats, poultry, fish and eggs declining 0.7%. Likewise, the index for fruits and vegetables fell 0.3% in May after increasing 1% in April. The indexes for other food at home and dairy and related products also declined.
The slow rate of inflation likely indicates that price competition between grocers remained intense during the month, and could pressure gross profit dollars. The Bureau’s Producer Price Index, indicating the input costs for grocers, will be published later this week.
The index showed that fresh produce remained negative on deflation in vegetables, while fruit prices increased slightly. The dairy index worsened modestly with an increase in egg prices offset by continued deflation in milk.
The index for nonalcohol beverages and beverage materials showed a 0.4% increase in May, while the index for cereals and bakery products was unchanged.
The index for food away from home, a proxy for inflation at restaurants, rose 0.3% in May following a 0.2% increase in April.