Food Prices Up, Gas Prices Plateau And Consumer Confidence Indicators Mixed
To recap key economic indicators that affect foodservice:
- Wholesale food prices rose in January after declining three of the previous four months. Wholesale food prices at the final demand stage rose 1%, fell 0.7% at the intermediate stage and rose 5.5% at the unprocessed stage. All data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Producer Price Index.
- At the consumer level, menu prices were up 0.3% in January, the strongest rise since a half point jump last September. Prices at grocery stores fell 0.2%, the third consecutive monthly decline, according to Consumer Price Index data from BLS.
- Gasoline prices have finally stopped falling, according to AAA Fuel Gauge Report data. The average national price of a gallon of regular stood at $1.749 Feb. 29, up 3.8 cents from the previous Monday. But prices are still more the six cents lower than a month ago.
- Consumer confidence fell slightly in February, according to both major groups that track confidence. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index fell only 0.3 point to 91.7 in the final February reading. That reading was up a full point from the mid-February preliminary reading of 90.7. Meanwhile The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which rose in January, fell in February to 92.2, down from 97.8 in January. The group said a less favorable assessment of business conditions was a factor. That was probably driven by extensive news reports of the declines in the stock markets.