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Food Service Industry Updates Retail Industry Updates

Fast-Food Prices on the Rise Along with Grocery Staples

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(iStock/umesh chandra)

Prices are rising and that includes for food at restaurants and grocery stores.

Prices at limited-service (fast-food) restaurants rose another 0.5% during April, continuing a trend of prices rising 1% every two months that began last December.

The government’s Consumer Price Index for limited-service outlets was up 6.2% from a year earlier and  9.7% higher than two years ago. Prices have now been 6% or more higher than a year earlier for five straight months, the largest such increases since the government started tracking limited-service restaurant prices in 1998.

Full-service restaurants, meanwhile, increased prices  0.2% during the month and were up 3.7% from a year earlier and the largest such increase since April 2009. As more restaurants reopen and/or expand seating, these prices will likely increase further, reflecting higher labor and food costs.

On the grocery side, food at home prices rose 0.6% in April and were up 1.2% from a year ago but were 5.3% above two years earlier, prior to the pandemic price surge. Center-of-the-plate staples such as beef and pork more than doubled that gain, however, climbing 1.4% and 2.4% during April. Another staple, milk, jumped 1.9% — marking the largest monthly increase in this category since 2011.

Frozen fruit and vegetable prices continued to climb as well, rising 1.8% during the month, while canned vegetables and fruits rose 0.7%. Soda drinkers saw carbonated beverages prices drop 1.5%, however — one of the few categories declining.

Brian Todd is president of Brian Todd & Associates, a food and beverage consulting firm based in Emerson, N.J., that offers strategic advisory, economic analysis and customized research. Todd previously spent 39 years with The Food Institute, serving as president from 2002 to 2019. He can be reached at brian@briantoddassociates.com.

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