Wholesalers & Distributors

Broken Record: Wholesale Prices Surged Further in September

Producer Price Index up 8.6% over September 2020
stocking produce
Photograph: Shutterstock

It's an unenviable streak: Wholesale prices broke another year-over-year record in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday, rising 8.6% over the previous 12 months. That's the largest increase since 2010, and it tops previously record-setting price hikes of 8.3% in August and 7.8% in July, both over the same month in 2020.

For all final-demand foods, prices are up 12.9% over a year ago, according to the BLS' monthly Producer Price Index. Wholesale food prices have risen more than wholesale prices in home furniture (11%), toys (5.8%), and apparel (up 2.2% for men's/boys' apparel and 0.5% for women's/girls' apparel) but don't come close to the 80% year-over-year increase in wholesale gasoline prices.

Within foods, throughout the year, spiking beef and veal prices have contributed to the acceleration in U.S. producer prices overall. At the wholesale level, beef and veal pricesafter soaring 14.7% from July to August alonerose 8.6% on a monthly basis in September. Over the past year, wholesale beef and veal prices are up nearly 58%.

That figure eclipses the still-huge 17.8% increase in retail prices for beef and veal since last September, which the BLS noted in its latest monthly consumer-prices report. The higher prices that shoppers are seeing may be prompting them to forego their favorite cuts, at least occasionally: A report released by market researcher IRI on Wednesday found that shopper spend in the meat department and their number of meat-department purchases are down slightly this year. 

Beef's wholesale price gain in September, notable though it was, wasn't the largest within foods: Wholesale egg prices bounced up more than 21% month over month in September (after falling 1.4% in August and climbing 19.5% in July). For the past year, wholesale egg prices are up 36.7%. 

Fresh and dry vegetable prices rose 19.4% month to month and are now up more than 4% since September 2020 following another double-digit increase in August. Fresh fruit prices, by contrast, fell, with wholesale fruit prices now down 10.5% year over year. 

Pork wholesale prices dipped 1.3% from August to September after rising 3.8% in the previous month; still, on a year-over-year basis, producer pork prices are 27.2% higher than they were a year go. (In comparison, at the grocery store, consumers paid 12.7% more for pork last month than they did in September 2020.) 

 

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