Food prices in highest rise since 1990

Prices for food at home increased 3.8 percent during 2004 over the prior year, the largest annual increase in 14 years, and well above the overall 2.7 percent increase in the All Items Consumer Price Index, according to an analysis of just-released Bureau of Labor Statistics data by The Food Institute, Elmwood Park, N.J.

Price increases were seen in all of the categories tracked by The Food Institute. By far, the largest price rise was 11.6 percent in beef and veal prices, followed by a 7.5 percent jump in poultry, 7.4 percent in dairy, and 6.6 percent in fats and oils.

In a separate study, the Food Institute also reported that supermarket sales increased 4.2 percent in 2004, coming in at an estimated $474.6 billion in sales during the year. But factoring out that food-at-home increase reported above would mean supermarket sales rose only a minuscule amount.

During November, sales at the nation's warehouse clubs and supercenters (the latest month for which data is available), rose 9.8% to $22.5 billion.

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