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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Food Producers' Prices Highest Since 1974


February 2011 marked the largest one-month increase in 37 years for wholesale food prices, climbing by 3.9%.

An analysis of the latest Producer Price Index Report by The Food Institute, Upper Saddle River, N.J., indicates that wholesale prices have not experienced an increase this great in many years. This number was only exceeded in November 1974 when spiraling oil prices resulted in sharp food price increases amounting to 4.2%.

"Food retailers in the U.S. have been very adept at holding price increases at a minimum for the past 18 months but the February surge will make that task more difficult in future months," says Brain Todd, President and CEO of the non-profit trade association that has been providing information about the food industry since 1928.

This latest increase in the Producer Price Index for finished consumer foods is driven by a 49% jump in fresh vegetable prices due to freezes and other crop issues in many farming areas. Price increases of 4% or more during the month for beef and pork also added to the surge in the overall index.

Of the 17 categories the Food Institute tracks on a regular basis, 13 posted increases during February, led by fresh vegetables, and followed by a nearly 10% jump in shortening and cooking oil, a 7.6% jump in egg prices, a 4.1% gain in dairy prices and a 3.2% jump in coffee prices.

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