Foodservice Equipment Reports

Wholesale Food Prices Fell In February, Operators Raise Menu Prices Cautiously

Overall wholesale food prices fell half a point in February, according to the NRA’s calculations on the three stages of wholesale food prices reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Big drops in prices for fresh fruits and vegetables, following big gains in January, led the decline. Changes in protein prices were mixed with poultry costs up 2.4%. Beef and veal prices rose half a point, but pork prices fell slightly, as did most dairy products. Overall wholesale food prices are up 2.4% for the past 12 months. Most forecasters still expect stronger gains in protein prices as the year wears on.

On the consumer level, both food-at-home and food-away-from-home prices, part of the BLS Consumer Price Index, rose 0.1%. After stronger gains last summer, foodservice operators have raised menu prices 0.1% each month since September, a cautious approach that anticipates potential food price increases, but acknowledges the weak sales environment. For the past 12 months, menu prices have risen 2.3% while those at groceries and other retail outlets are only 1.2% higher.

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