Prices for groceries are 7.4% higher than they were a year ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Feb. 10, as inflation for food at home came as close as it has been in the past year to inflation in the overall economy.
Overall, prices for all goods and services were up 7.5% in January year over year, according to the BLS' latest Consumer Price Index report. In December, when overall inflation ran at a hot 7%, grocery prices were up 6.5% year over year.
January's 7.5% jump was the largest in 40 years, with rising prices for food, electricity and shelter leading last month's pricing surge. While inflation crept higher throughout 2021, six months ago—when the BLS released its July CPI report—inflation year over year stood at 5.4% for the overall economy and 2.6% for food at home.
In addition, prices for food at home were up a full 1% in January 2022 over December 2021 in the largest month-over-month climb in grocery prices since September.
Cereals and bakery products, as well as eggs, tallied the biggest month-to-month price increases in January. Prices of cereal/bakery products were up 1.8% last month over December and 6.8% year over year; within the category, flour prices rose the most, with flour and prepared flour mix prices more than 10% higher than they were a year ago. Egg prices were up 2% in January over December and 13.1% year over year.
Meat prices, which soared in 2021, moderated a bit in January. While prices for meat, poultry and fish still were up 12.2% in January over year-ago levels, prices for beef and veal declined month over month for a second straight month, falling 1.3% in January vs. December. Pork, too, recorded a second consecutive month-to-month slide in prices, although prices remain 14% higher than they were a year ago. Chicken prices edged down 0.3% in January but are up 10.3% year over year.
Inflation at the grocery store exceeded even the hottest-in-decades surge at restaurants and other foodservice venues in January: Over the past 12 months, food-away-from-home prices climbed 6.4%, the largest increase that sector has seen since 1982. Prices at limited-service restaurants were up 8% year over year, while prices at full-service restaurants rose 7.1%. School and employee foodservice sites continued to see prices lower than they were a year ago, moderating inflation for food away from home overall.
Within grocery, other products seeing above-average inflation over the past 12 months included:
- Bacon (prices up 18.1% year over year in January)
- Fats and oils (10.7%)
- Coffee (8.6%)
- Fresh fruit (8.2%)
- Fresh whole milk (8.2%)
- Baby food (7.8%)