U.S. food prices rose in June though at the slowest pace since January, indicating the effects of a cold winter and droughts across the Southwest may be subsiding.
Federal data released Tuesday indicate food prices rose 0.1 percent in June from May, compared to a 0.5 percent increase the previous month.
Still, prices of some items like pork chops and milk are much higher than a year ago and are outpacing inflation. Pork chop prices rose 14 percent from last year, primarily due to a virus called porcine epidemic diarrhea virus killing piglets across the country. Whole milk prices are up 6 percent from last year. Fish, beef, cheese, butter and eggs are all up more than 7 percent from a year ago. Fresh fruits, many grown in drought-plagued California, are up nearly 6 percent from a year ago, led by a 12 percent increase in citrus fruit prices.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, taking into account the droughts in the Southwest and the stress on cattle from cold weather last winter, predicts food prices will rise by 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent this year, after a 1.4 percent rise last year. Internationally, food prices rose about 4 percent in spring, ending a two-year decline, the World Bank reported.
The annual core inflation rate, which excludes food and energy prices, declined to 1.9 percent in June from the Federal Reserve’s targeted 2 percent.