Fresh Food

Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Prices Soared in November

Producer prices across the economy up 9.6% in November, largest 12-month increase since 2010
fruit waiting to be loaded onto freight trucks
Photograph: Shutterstock

Food producers' prices rose 11.6% from November 2020 to November 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Dec. 14. Across the U.S. economy, prices for final-demand goods and services were up 9.6% last month from the year-ago period, fueled by rising prices for gasoline as well as iron and steel scrap. November once again saw the largest year-over-year increase in wholesale prices since the BLS began issuing its monthly Producer Price Index report 11 years ago. 

Within final-demand foods, fresh fruits and vegetables saw large month-to-month price increases in November, with wholesale fruit prices climbing 20% from October and vegetable prices rising more than 11%. For the year, fresh fruit and vegetable wholesale prices are up 24% and 12%, respectively.

Beef, which saw wholesale prices dip in October after being on a tear for much of the past year, saw prices edge up 1.6% from October to November. For the past 12 months, beef wholesale prices are up 40.6%. Last week, the BLS noted in its monthly consumer price index (CPI) report that retail prices for beef are up nearly 21% in the past year. 

Other gainers in the month included grains, with wholesale prices up 6.3% month over month and 38.4% year over year, and processed turkeys—up nearly 2% for the month and more than 43% at wholesale since November 2020. 

Outside of food, producer prices for gasoline climbed 7.3% in November alone after rising 7.4% in October. Year over year, gas wholesale prices are up 102%.

The price of freight transportation by truck—which retailers including Target and Dollar Tree have cited in the past month as a significant contributor to margin pressures—climbed 1% in the month and is up 16.3% year over year. That's a larger wholesale price increase on the year than for freight transport by rail (up 8%) or by air (8.8%). 

Finally, a host of construction materials saw prices climb in November, as well: Iron and steel scrap led the way, with prices up nearly 11% month to month in November and 78% year over year. 

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