Household budgets were hit by rising grocery prices for the second consecutive month in August, data from the Department of Labor showed Wednesday.
The consumer price index for “food at home” rose 0.2 percent in August after climbing 0.3 percent in July. In June, grocery prices were more or less flat with the prior month.
Food prices have been on an almost relentless rise since Biden took office, with food inflation becoming a constant feature of the American economy after nearly a decade of m mostly stable prices. Prices for groceries have been up on a monthly basis in all but three months of Biden’s presidency.
The cumulative effect has been devastating for the budgets of many households. Since February 2021, food-at-home prices are up 19.6 percent.
Even though the rate of increases has declined since last year, when food prices were up 13 percent compared with the year before, there is no sign of a return to the pre-Biden price levels. Instead, food prices seem to be settling into a permanently higher price level and a persistently higher rate of monthly increases.
The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs rose 0.8 percent in August. The index for pork rose 2.2 percent. The index for other food at home increased 0.2 percent over the month.
The index for cereals and bakery products rose 0.5 percent for the month. It is up a whopping six percent compared with a year ago.
Fans of frozen pies, tarts, and other frozen bakery products were especially hard hit in August, with prices jumping 1.8 percent. Ice cream prices, however, declined 0.7 percent in August (although they are still up 4.3 percent from a year ago).
Diary and related products saw a 0.4 percent increase in August, reversing the 0.5 percent increase in July.
The index for fruits and vegetables declined, with almost every subcategory seeing prices dip in August. Compared with a year ago, however, prices for all fruits and vegetables are higher except for citrus and tomatoes.
Dining out also got pricier in August. The index for “food away from home” rose 0.3 percent. Fast food meals rose 0.3 percent and full-service restaurant prices rose 0.2 percent. Compared with a year ago, food away from home prices are up 6.5 percent, including a 6.7 percent increase in fast food meals and 5.3 percent increase in full service restaurant meals.