Foodservice Equipment Reports

Food And Gasoline Prices On The Rise

March brought another round of sharp increases in food and gasoline prices, according to wholesale and consumer price data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and AAA. The National Restaurant Association calculates that average wholesale food prices rose 1.1% in March, based on Producer Price Index data. Menu prices rose 0.3% for the second month in a row. And according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report for April 26, the price of a regular gallon of gas averaged nearly 16 cents more than a month ago.

Wholesale food prices rose at all three levels of demand, according to the March PPI data. At the final demand stage, food prices were up 1.1% after gains of 0.6% in February and 1% in January. The gains were driven by an 8.2% jump in wholesale pork prices, which are now running 16.5% higher than a year ago. The month also brought a 5.2% increase in flour prices. The NRA calculates average wholesale food prices now stand 2.8% higher than 12 months ago.

On the consumer side, the upward pressure on wholesale prices can be clearly seen by a 0.5% jump in prices at grocery stores, the second consecutive half-point gain. Retail food prices more closely follow wholesale food prices. Still, despite the strong gains for both food-at-home and food-away-from-home prices the past two months, the 12-month changes are only 1.4% for grocery prices and 2.3% for menu prices.

Gasoline prices at both the consumer and wholesale levels actually moderated slightly in March on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to PPI and Consumer Price Index data, but they have been on the rise throughout April. As of last Saturday, average regular gas prices per gallon were 19 cents higher than a year ago. But the rise in the past week was less than 2 cents, and AAA shows crude oil prices on the decline. This might signal a slowdown in increases as the country enters its peak summer driving season.

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