Grocery Prices Edged Up in February, But Barely

Fresh fruit prices jumped by the most in seven years
Photograph courtesy of Stater Bros.

Consumers paid a bit more for the items in their grocery carts in February, with prices for food at home rising 0.3% for the month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. 

Overall for the 12-month period ending in February, food-at-home prices rose 3.5%. That compares with year-over-year increases of 3.7% recorded in January and 3.9% in December.

Last month, consumer prices edged up in four of six grocery categories, with fruits and vegetables seeing the largest month-over-month increase, at 0.7%. That includes a 1.8% climb in prices for fresh fruitsfruit's biggest monthly price jump since March 2014.

CPI 12 month percent change

Consumer prices also rose in the meats, poultry, fish and eggs category, albeit at a slower pace than in January (0.3% vs. 0.5%). Prices for cereals and bakery products rose 0.5% in February; prices for other center store and otherwise uncategorized items climbed 0.1%.

Dairy products and nonalcohol beverages were the two categories to see month-over-month price declines. Dairy prices slipped 0.2% after sliding 0.4% in January. Nonalcohol beverage prices ticked down 0.1%.

For the year-over-year period, meats, poultry, fish and eggs continued to be the leader in price increases, with consumer prices climbing 5.2% from a year ago. Nonalcohol beverage prices year over year are up 4.0%; fruits and vegetables, in third place, saw prices climb 3.4%.

Where else were consumers paying more in February? At limited-service restaurants, for one. Fast-food prices were up 0.4% over the month before—they're also up 6.3% for the year, the largest 12-month increase for the category since the index started in 1997. Consumers paid more at the pump, too: Gas prices were up 6.4% over January.



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