Food prices were flat for the second consecutive month in April, a relief for many Americans who have faced higher costs at the grocery store in recent months.
It’s a big improvement from February, when prices were up 0.4% for the month.
Home food prices fell 0.2% in April compared to the previous month. Restaurant food prices continued to rise, rising 0.4 percent on the month, a slight decline from 0.6 percent in March.
Despite relief from rising food prices, costs are still much higher than they were before the pandemic. Overall, food prices rose 7.7% last year.
Fruit and vegetable prices fell 0.5% on the month, and the meat, poultry, fish and eggs index also fell 0.3%. Milk prices fell 2 percent, the biggest drop since February 2015. Egg prices, which soared after an outbreak of bird flu and the cost of fuel, feed and packaging rose, fell 1.5 percent after a slump. from 10.9 percent in March.
Prices for cereals and baked goods rose 0.2 percent from 0.6 percent in the previous month.
Food prices started to skyrocket about two years ago, as the cost of labor, transport and raw materials rose. Other factors, such as the higher cost of marketing and packaging food products, also resulted in companies passing these increases on to consumers. Weather-related events, such as extreme droughts in the western United States, have reduced crop yields and increased supply costs.
Economists said food prices may be starting to moderate as labor pressures ease and manufacturing wage growth has slowed in recent months. Recent drops in fuel prices have also helped to reduce transportation costs.
The prices that consumers pay for food in restaurants are generally slower to change because more labor costs are involved.
“Americans have had to face significantly higher costs for basic necessities,” said Sarah House, senior economist at Wells Fargo. “The fact that you are seeing some easing here is very important to consumers.”