In the 1970s, food prices were rising so quickly that USDA Top Economist, Howard George, had to call weekly press conferences to address the situation. In the first quarter of 1979 the annual increase was 17.9%, however since then things have leveled out and the average annual increase is about 2%. There have even been years that food prices decreased, however, 2022 proved to be a period of rapid food prices that hadn't been seen since before 1980.

In 2022, shoppers saw an average increase of 11.4% across all food items, none of which decreased. Some categories like beef and veal were lower at 5.3%. While Cereal and bakery products experienced a 30% increase due to fertilizer shortages, conflicts in Ukraine, and the international meat market.

In December 2022, egg prices increased 60% from the prior December due to the Avian Influenza. Which has resulted in lower egg production as outbreaks have affected 796 flocks across the United States totaling 57.89 million birds to date. Eggs were at the extreme end of the food price increase.

Food prices are expected to continue to increase in 2023 however, it is anticipated to increase at a much slower rate of 4% over the year.

PARTICIPANTS: USDA Gary Crawford. USDA economist, Matt MacLachlan and former USDA economist, Howard Hjort.