Higher Grocery Prices Helped Drive Inflation Up in September

After slowing in August, consumer price inflation accelerated again in September to 5.4% year over year
consumer holding packaged beef
Photograph: Shutterstock

Consumer prices climbed 5.4% year over year in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday, with food-at-home prices rising 4.5% over the past 12 months, driven by a double-digit increase in protein prices. 

U.S. grocery shoppers paid 10.5% more, on average, for meat, poultry, fish and eggs last month than they did a year ago, according to the BLS' monthly Consumer Price Index. That includes year-over-year price increases of 17.8% for beef and veal, 12.7% for pork, and 12.6% for eggs. 

Price increases for chicken (7.6% year over year) and fish and seafood (7.1%), while not as dramatic, still outpaced overall consumer price inflation last month. Moreover, consumers saw grocery-store prices for all of their leading center-plate proteins climb more than restaurant prices did over the same period: Fast-food and fast-casual restaurant prices were up 6.7% year over year in September; full-service restaurant prices were up 5.2%.

Even on a month-to-month basis, protein price increases were notable: a whopping 4.8% for beef and veal over August prices, along with increases of 2.5% for ham and 2.4% for fresh fish and seafood.

Overall, September's 5.4% YoY consumer price inflation matched levels seen in June and July after a slight slowdown to 5.3% in August. Month-to-month, consumer prices were up 0.4% in September after rising 0.3% in August.

Food and shelter together accounted for more than half of the increase in consumer prices recorded in September, the BLS reported. 

Elsewhere in the grocery store, prices were up 3% year over year for fruits and vegetables (led by a 7.8% increase for apples), 0.6% for dairy products, 3.7% for nonalcoholic beverages, 6.9% for fats and oils (including a 6.2% hike for peanut butter), and 6.8% for prepared salads. Fruits and vegetables, coffee, and rice and pasta all saw price increases accelerate in September over July and August; prices for butter and margarine and breakfast cereals fell from earlier in the summer.





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