CONTRARY to what economists had anticipated, the June 18 update of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that food price inflation actually turned lower in May, with prices for food consumed at home leading the retreat.
The index for all food showed a 0.1% drop for the month of May, following a 0.2% uptick in April. For the 12 months ending in May, food prices increased 1.4%, according to BLS.
Prices for food consumed at home fell 0.3% in May, the largest decline in that index since July 2009. Prices for food consumed away from home rose 0.2% for the month, and the index is up 2.3% year to date.
Broken down by food category, the index for dairy and related products decreased 0.8%, its third decline in the last four months. The indices for cereals and bakery products and other food consumed at home both turned lower in May, falling 0.4% and 0.3%, respectively.
The CPI for meats, poultry, fish and eggs, which increased in April, was unchanged in May. In fact, the only grocery store food group index to rise was fruits and vegetables, which increased 0.4% in May after a 1.4% decline in April. That index has risen the most of the six at-home food categories over the past year, increasing 2.1%.
Energy prices have shown far more volatility over the past year than other items measured in the CPI. Since November, for example, the monthly percentage change for the energy CPI has ranged from -4.3% in April 2013 to +5.4% in February.
The CPI for all items less food and energy increased 0.2% in May after rising 0.1% in both March and April.