Soaring prices at the grocery store likely to linger into next year, watchers say, as consumer prices remain on the rise, despite a weak recovery.
According to the Conference Board, US consumer prices rose 0.2% in the last quarter, unchanged from the prior three months, and are up 2.4% from a year ago.
And that’s not all—the price of food and beverages, a key driver of overall inflation, is up 3.0% from a year ago.
What explains these rising prices, and what’s the outlook for the future?
As far as food prices go, some argue that it’s the growing population due to the baby boom that’s causing the increase.
The average American now weighs more than 80 pounds more than when I was growing up.
And because food goes together, it has become much more expensive, said Mark Patterson, chief economist at the Conference Board and author of The Food Lab: How Science and Technology are Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, Live, Work, Love, and Care for Our Food.
“I find it hard to think of how you can spend less on food in terms of real dollars or real per capita consumption,” he said.
Here’s how the rising prices affect different categories of personal expenditures, according to the Conference Board:
• Clothing: Prices are up 5.5% from a year ago.
• Shelter: Prices are up 2.3%, meaning housing and utilities are going up more.
• Transportation: There was a 2.0% increase in prices, and is up 2.2% from last year.
• Insurance: There was no change in prices this quarter, but prices have been going up sharply since the recession started.
• Utilities: These prices are down 1.7% over the last quarter, compared to a year ago and 2.0% from last year.
• Medical care: There was an 8.9% jump in prices this quarter, which is an increase of more than 30% from a year ago