Foodservice Equipment Reports

Food And Menu Prices Rise Again, While Gasoline Prices Fall

After a brief lull in increases for food at the wholesale level, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Restaurant Association show prices rose again in April. Overall wholesale prices rose 0.5% after falling 0.1% in March, according to the NRA. The BLS said prices for “finished foods” rose 0.3% on a seasonally adjusted basis in April. It was the ninth increase in the past 10 months and puts overall wholesale food prices 7.1% higher than 12 months ago, said the NRA. Most meats and fish prices were higher, though processed poultry prices rose a more moderate 0.4%. All the proteins other than poultry have seen double-digit gains over the past 12 months, while poultry prices are actually down slightly.

On the consumer-price level, the BLS said its food index rose 0.4% with food at home up 0.5% and food-away-from-home 0.3% higher. Food-at-home prices have risen nearly 4% in the past 12 months while menu prices are only 2.1% higher.

While energy and gasoline prices were up substantially in both the producer price and consumer price indexes, pump prices for gasoline and diesel fell for the second week in a row, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s reading for the week ending May 23. The national average prices for gas fell 11.1 cents to $3.849 a gallon, down nearly 15 cents since early May. Diesel prices fell 6.4 cents and remain near $4 a gallon at $3.997.

The drop in gas prices had not registered with consumers surveyed for Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s preliminary May Consumer Sentiment Index, released May 13. Still, the index rose slightly to 72.4 from the final April reading of 69.8. The preliminary Expectations Index also rose. Both measures hit their highest points since February. The final May readings will be released tomorrow morning.

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