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Grocery prices jumped the most since 1979 over the past year

The 13.5% cost increase for all food at home through the 12-month period ending in August was led by eggs, the prices of which soared 40%.
A customer shops at a supermarket
A customer shops at a supermarket in Millbrae, Calif. on Aug. 10, 2022.Li Jianguo / Xinhua via Getty Images file
/ Source: NBC News

The price of groceries continued to soar in the last 12 months ending in August, climbing 13.5% — the biggest increase since 1979.

Many food categories saw double-digit 12-month increases, led by eggs, which surged 40%; margarine, up 38%; and flour, which jumped 23%.

In its latest monthly food price outlook, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said factors across the economy, including ongoing supply chain issues and higher energy, transportation, and labor costs have contributed to increases in prices across food categories.

The price of a dozen large grade-A eggs has now hit a record high of $3.12 — up 82.3% from a year ago. The USDA said an ongoing bird flu outbreak has reduced egg-producing flocks, causing prices to surge.

“This outbreak has contributed to elevated egg prices and increasing poultry prices as over 40 million birds, 189 commercial flocks, and 39 States have been affected,” the department said.

If there’s any consolation, it’s that prices could begin falling soon. A monthly survey from Purdue University found consumer estimates of annual food price inflation for both the past 12 months and next 12 months are decreasing, something that “suggests that the fall in price categories like gas might be influencing consumers to believe that food prices are falling too,” the survey’s authors wrote.

The USDA also predicts food price growth in many categories should abate through the end of the year and into 2023, thanks to higher interest rates, lower commodity prices, and lower energy prices.

For instance, favorable growing conditions in places like Australia and Canada have contributed to record wheat and wheat flour production volumes, the department said, putting downward pressure on farm and wholesale prices.

“Food prices are expected to grow more slowly in 2023 than 2022, but still above historical average rates,” the USDA said.

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