Inflation for food at home soared to 11.9% year over year in May, a level not seen since April 1979, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported June 10. And inflation in the overall U.S. economy, after retreating slightly in April, climbed again in May, to 8.6%.
Food was a top contributor to May's inflation acceleration: Last month's spike in grocery prices was higher even than the 40-year highs recorded earlier this spring, with food-at-home inflation having reached 10.8% in April and 10% in March.
Month to month, grocery prices were up 1.4% over April levels, the fifth consecutive month of a 1% or greater increase, the BLS reported.
Once again, prices rose across the grocery store. Five of six food-at-home categories the BLS tracks saw year-over-year increases of more than 10%. The lone category to come in under 10% was fruits and vegetables, with prices rising 8.2% over the past 12 months.
Among the grocery items seeing notably high inflation in May:
- Eggs, 32.2%
- Butter and margarine, 20.2%
- Chicken, 17.4%
- Citrus fruits, 16.1%
- Milk, 15.9%
- Coffee, 15.3%
- Ground beef, 13.6%
- Baby food, 12.9%
- Rice, pasta and cornmeal, 12.8%
Inflation at restaurants and other foodservice venues hit a 40-year high in May, too, although the spike—7.4%—wasn't as high as in grocery. Full-service meal prices rose 9% year over year; prices at limited-service restaurants climbed 7.3%.
Gasoline and housing were the other leading contributors to May's overall rise in inflation. Gas prices were up 48.7% year over year, and rent/homeowners' rent equivalent prices were up more than 5%.