Food costs for consumers are expected to be lower this year according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service latest forecast. ERS is projecting that in 2017 food prices will increase 1.5-2.5%. This compares to last month’s forecast of an increase of 2-3% and is below the 20-year average inflation of 2.6%.
Restaurant purchases (food away from home) are 2.7% higher than last March. However, food-at-home (grocery store or supermarket food items) costs are estimated to increase 1.0 to 2.0% which is below the 20-year average of 2.5% increase.
Estimates for various food items for 2016 vary considerably: beef — beef and veal prices are estimated to decrease 1.0 to 2.0%; pork — pork prices will change -0.5 to 0.5%; eggs — prices for eggs are among the most volatile of food prices, predicted to decrease 9.0 to 10.0%; poultry — poultry prices are forecast to increase 1.0 to 2.0%; dairy — dairy product prices are estimated to increase 2.0 to 3.0%; fresh fruit — fresh fruit prices are forecast to increase 2.5-3.5 %; and fresh vegetables — fresh vegetable prices are estimated to increase 2.0-3.0% this year.