Highest grocery price inflation in nine years
Grocery prices rose by 3.5% during 2020, the largest increase since prices rose 4.8% in 2011, said the USDA on Monday. Beef led the parade of pandemic price increases, up by 9.6% for the year, followed by pork, up 6.3%, and poultry, up by 5.6%.
“Only the price of fresh fruits declined (0.8%), while all other food categories increased in price,” said the monthly Food Price Outlook written by USDA economists. Grocery prices are forecast to rise by a modest 1.5% this year. The long-term average is a 2% increase annually; food prices usually track the overall U.S. inflation rate.
Outbreaks of COVID-19 in meat processing plants slowed production during late spring of 2020, helping to drive up retail meat prices. Grocery supplies also were disrupted when a near-shutdown of restaurants sent hungry Americans to the food store, resulting in spot shortages.