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Grocery prices were flat from February to March

An ag economist says consumers could see grocery price inflation rates return to more normal levels.

Joe Balagtas with Purdue University’s Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability says the latest Consumer Price Index is a good sign. “Grocery prices were flat from February to March,” he says. “Egg prices were higher, dairy prices are lower overall.  Grocery prices are flat, so that’s good news.”

He tells Brownfield that food price inflation, year-over-year, was at 2.2% in March. “Indicating that the worst is behind us and we’re moving towards a more normal growth in prices over time,” he says.

But, he says, food prices away from home have been moving higher. “Five percent for fast food and 4.2% for all restaurants as it relates to food away from home,” he says. “The story there is labor. Labor costs are higher in food service than they are in the grocery store.”

Balagtas says protein prices are mostly higher, with eggs up 4.6% as producers battle another round of high path avian influenza.  Uncooked ground beef was up 0.7% and bacon increased 0.9%.

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