Wholesale Food Prices Jumped 1.2% In March
Average wholesale food prices, whose more than two- year decline had benefited profit margins as operators continued to raise menu prices, surged 1.2% in March, according to data from the Bureau of Labor and the National Restaurant Association. It was the third gain in four months and pushed wholesale food prices into positive territory versus prices 12 months ago for the first time in more than two years. Average wholesale prices now stand 0.2% above prices 12 months ago.
On a more positive note, the rise in food prices at the wholesale level has pushed grocery-store prices higher for two consecutive months, according to BLS data from the Consumer Price Index. Retail food prices spiked half a percent in March, the largest monthly gain in nearly three years. The jump follows a 0.3% gain in February. Grocery store food prices fell for nine consecutive months before that, creating the widest gap between menu-price and grocery-store price trends in decades. Many observers blame some of the slowdown in restaurant sales and traffic over the past year to that gap. Grocery store prices remain 0.9% behind a year ago. Operators raised prices 0.2% again in March and menu prices remain 2.4% ahead of a year ago.