Food Inflation in the United States (1968-2018)

The average price of food in the United States rose 1.4% in the 12 months ended June compared to the 1.2% increase in May, according to the newest inflation data published July 12, 2018 by the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Food inflation is a major part of the Consumer Price Index. It is always discussed in the monthly CPI report. It includes pricing changes for "food away from home" and "food at home" — for example, the pair in June logged year-over-year increases of 0.4% and 2.8%.

Some of the foods the BLS surveys every month for inflation include meats, poultry, fish, eggs, cereal, bakery products, dairy, beverages, and various fruits and vegetables. This chart shows overall U.S. food inflation on an annual basis over the last decade:

*For 2018, the most recent inflation monthly data (12-month based) is displayed in the chart.

Table: Food Inflation by Month and Year

The below table shows the percent increase or decrease in food prices on an annual basis by month and calendar year. Since figures below are 12-month periods, look to the December column to find the over change in food prices by calendar year. The last column, "Ave," shows the average rate of increase or decrease in food prices by year.

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Ave
1968 2.3 2.9 3.2 4.0 4.3 3.7 3.4 3.4 4.0 4.3 4.0 4.2 3.4
1969 3.9 3.6 3.9 3.9 3.9 5.0 5.5 5.5 5.7 5.2 6.3 7.1 5.2
1970 7.0 7.6 7.0 7.0 6.9 5.8 5.2 4.7 4.4 4.7 3.3 2.3 5.2
1971 2.0 1.8 2.8 3.0 3.0 3.5 3.5 3.7 3.0 3.0 3.5 4.2 3.2
1972 4.0 5.2 4.4 3.6 3.4 3.1 3.6 3.6 4.6 4.6 5.0 4.5 4.1
1973 6.4 6.8 9.1 10.5 11.7 12.6 12.5 18.2 17.2 17.2 18.1 18.5 13.2
1974 18.1 18.7 17.0 15.3 14.9 13.9 13.1 9.0 11.2 12.0 11.6 12.1 13.7
1975 11.2 9.1 8.1 8.1 7.7 8.9 11.1 9.3 7.6 7.5 6.9 6.2 8.5
1976 5.5 4.8 4.1 4.6 4.7 3.7 2.1 2.5 2.1 1.6 1.0 0.8 3.2
1977 1.6 4.2 5.4 6.2 6.1 6.6 6.4 6.5 6.7 6.6 7.6 7.5 6.0
1978 8.3 7.3 8.0 8.6 9.5 10.1 10.4 10.2 10.7 11.3 11.1 11.6 9.7
1979 12.2 12.8 12.5 11.7 11.1 10.0 9.9 9.5 9.8 9.7 9.7 10.0 10.7
1980 8.8 7.3 7.4 7.2 7.0 7.1 7.7 9.4 10.0 10.1 10.4 10.1 8.5
1981 10.0 10.4 10.0 9.4 8.7 8.5 8.3 7.3 6.5 5.7 4.9 4.3 7.8
1982 4.7 4.7 4.0 4.1 4.8 5.2 4.4 3.6 3.5 3.5 3.4 3.2 4.1
1983 2.6 2.1 2.8 3.0 2.5 1.6 1.4 1.8 1.8 2.1 2.3 2.7 2.3
1984 3.9 4.5 3.8 3.4 3.0 3.3 3.7 4.2 3.9 3.8 3.8 3.8 3.7
1985 2.6 2.4 2.5 2.4 2.5 2.4 2.1 1.6 1.9 2.0 2.5 2.8 2.3
1986 2.9 2.1 2.1 2.3 2.8 2.8 3.5 4.2 4.3 4.3 4.2 3.7 3.3
1987 4.1 4.6 4.5 4.5 4.7 5.1 4.1 3.5 3.6 3.5 3.3 3.5 4.0
1988 3.2 2.9 3.1 3.5 3.4 3.3 4.5 4.9 5.2 5.2 5.2 5.1 4.1
1989 5.4 6.0 6.3 6.3 6.5 6.2 5.6 5.2 4.8 5.0 5.4 5.5 5.7
1990 6.6 6.7 6.4 5.6 5.1 5.4 5.6 5.7 5.6 5.6 5.5 5.3 5.8
1991 4.5 3.9 3.9 4.7 4.7 4.6 3.5 2.9 2.8 2.3 2.4 2.5 3.6
1992 1.5 1.5 1.8 1.2 0.7 0.4 0.7 1.6 1.9 2.0 1.6 1.6 1.4
1993 1.9 1.9 1.5 1.9 2.5 2.0 2.2 1.9 1.8 2.2 2.5 2.7 2.1
1994 2.7 2.1 2.1 1.8 1.6 2.2 2.6 2.7 2.7 2.3 2.3 2.7 2.3
1995 2.5 2.9 2.8 3.4 3.2 2.9 2.6 2.5 2.6 2.9 2.7 2.1 2.8
1996 2.4 2.4 2.8 2.6 2.6 3.2 3.4 3.6 3.7 4.0 4.3 4.2 3.2
1997 3.6 3.7 3.3 2.9 3.0 2.6 2.5 2.5 2.2 1.9 1.7 1.6 2.6
1998 2.2 1.8 1.9 2.0 2.3 2.2 2.2 2.1 2.0 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.2
1999 2.2 2.5 2.2 2.3 2.2 2.2 2.1 2.0 2.2 1.9 2.0 2.0 2.2
2000 1.6 1.8 2.1 2.0 2.2 2.3 2.7 2.7 2.6 2.5 2.3 2.8 2.3
2001 2.9 3.0 3.1 3.1 3.0 3.3 3.1 3.1 3.1 3.4 3.4 2.8 3.1
2002 2.8 2.7 2.6 2.5 2.0 1.7 1.5 1.3 1.3 1.0 1.3 1.5 1.8
2003 1.1 1.4 1.5 1.3 1.7 2.2 2.1 2.4 2.5 2.9 3.1 3.5 2.1
2004 3.5 3.1 3.2 3.4 4.0 3.7 3.8 3.5 3.3 3.4 3.1 2.6 3.4
2005 2.8 2.6 2.5 3.1 2.5 2.2 2.2 2.1 2.5 2.2 2.2 2.3 2.5
2006 2.6 2.7 2.6 1.8 1.9 2.2 2.2 2.5 2.6 2.6 2.3 2.2 2.4
2007 2.4 3.1 3.3 3.7 3.9 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.4 4.4 4.7 4.8 3.9
2008 4.8 4.5 4.4 5.0 5.0 5.2 5.8 5.9 6.0 6.1 5.9 5.8 5.4
2009 5.2 4.7 4.3 3.3 2.7 2.2 1.1 0.6 0.0 -0.3 -0.5 -0.4 1.9
2010 -0.2 -0.1 0.3 0.5 0.7 0.7 0.9 1.0 1.4 1.4 1.5 1.5 0.8
2011 1.8 2.2 2.8 3.1 3.4 3.6 4.0 4.4 4.5 4.5 4.4 4.5 3.6
2012 4.2 3.8 3.2 3.0 2.7 2.7 2.3 2.0 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.8 2.5
2013 1.6 1.6 1.5 1.6 1.4 1.4 1.5 1.4 1.4 1.3 1.2 1.1 1.4
2014 1.1 1.4 1.7 1.8 2.4 2.2 2.4 2.6 2.9 2.9 3.1 3.3 2.3
2015 3.1 2.8 2.3 1.9 1.6 1.7 1.6 1.5 1.6 1.6 1.2 0.8 1.8
2016 0.9 0.9 0.8 1.0 0.7 0.4 0.3 0.1 -0.2 -0.3 -0.3 -0.1 0.3
2017 -0.1 0.1 0.5 0.6 0.9 0.9 1.1 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.6 0.9
2018 1.6 1.4 1.3 1.4 1.2 1.4              

Data Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Food and beverages in U.S. city average, all urban consumers, not seasonally adjusted. CPI-All Urban Consumers.

The change in food prices are a component of the CPI’s "all items" index and so they are part of the data set that is used in calculating inflation rates. Because food prices tend to be more volatile, however, they are stripped out when calculating core inflation rates.