Food price inflation isn't theoretical anymore

Agflation has shown up in supermarket prices.

Ann Hermes / The Christian Science Monitor / File
Boston resident Daniel Kemp watches his grocery bill as DeLuca's Market employee, Fabian Acosta, rings up his purchases, in this 2009 file photo from Boston, Mass. "Everybody's noticed you're spending ten dollars or more on groceries," Kemp said. Staples have risen: chuck roast is up 13 percent to $4 per pound, whole milk is up 10 percent to $3.28 a gallon, and eggs are up 7 percent to $1.75 a dozen, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Hate to say I told you so, but this one could be spotted a mile away. And some of us did. The law of unintended consequences is in full effect as the food price inflation (aka Agflation) I feared is finally here. We're not talking out-of-control price hikes at this point - but the trend is the trend and our monetary policy is definitely exacerbating it.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Prices of staples including milk, beef, coffee, cocoa and sugar have risen sharply in recent months. And food makers and retailers including McDonald's Corp., Kellogg Co. and Kroger Co. have begun to signal that they'll try to make consumers shoulder more of the higher costs for ingredients.

Our officials are really into CPI as their inflation measure, which is a shame because it doesn't actually take into account, well, inflation. "Inflation ex-food and energy" is the most oxymoronic phrase in the economic glossary. Here's the troof:

Food prices are rising faster than overall inflation. The consumer price index for all items minus food and energy rose 0.8% over the year to September, the lowest 12-month increase since March 1961, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. The food index rose 1.4%, however. The U.S. Agricultural Department is predicting overall food inflation of about 2% to 3% next year.

My raise rates to 1% call is looking better and better. Meanwhile, the Fed pumps more cash to the developing world - our new competitors for protein and grains.


Food Sellers Grit Teeth, Raise Prices (WSJ)

Read Also:

Raise Rates, Cowards (TRB)

Farmer Brown Wuz Right, Food Prices Exploding (TRB)

Signs of Agflation Hit Egypt (TRB)

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