Foodservice Equipment Reports

Food And Menu Prices Rise Moderately, Gas Prices Fall

Overall wholesale food prices and operator menu prices continued their moderate gains in April, with wholesale prices up 0.2% and menu prices climbing 0.3%.  Meanwhile, gasoline prices fell again in April and during the four weeks of May, after peaking in early April.

The April increase for wholesale foods followed a 0.6% increase in March that ended a three-month streak from December2011 to February this year of decreasing prices. Wholesale food prices are up 2.1% compared to a year ago, but still well above the cyclical lows of ’09. On the commodity front, beef and veal prices jumped 7.3% in April and are running 17% ahead of last year. On the other hand, pork prices fell 8.5%, their seventh consecutive decline, and are running 9.2% lower than last year at this time.

The 0.3% April jump in food-away-from-home prices in the Consumer Price Index maintained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was the largest increase in three months. Menu-price increase slowed to 0.1% in February and 0.2% in March in response to the lower increases in wholesale prices in late ’11 and early’12 mentioned above. Menu prices are up 2.9% over the past 12 months. Grocery-store prices rose 0.2% and are 3.3% higher than a year ago.

Gasoline prices fell 2.6% in April, according to CPI data and have continued to fall throughout May, according to AAA. The average national price for a gallon of regular gasoline fell 4.8 cents in the week ended May 28, was 18.2 cents lower than a month ago and 15.7 cents less than a year ago. The quick decline in gas prices undoubtedly helped the consumer sentiment numbers noted in a separate article this issue.

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