- Food-at-home prices rose in May at a 5.8% annual rate, down from 7.1% during the prior month, according to Consumer Price Index data released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- The food-at-home index edged up 0.1% in May compared with April, reversing the 0.2% month-over-month decline recorded last month.
- Overall inflation fell in May by nearly a full percentage point to a 4.0% annual pace — the lowest yearly rate for the CPI in more than two years.
The latest CPI figures from the BLS underscore just how dramatically the U.S. inflation picture has changed this year compared with 2022, when prices were zooming upward at a seemingly boundless clip.
The year-over-year decline in the food-at-home index in May represents the fifth month in a row where the rate has lost more than a full percentage point compared with the previous month.
At 5.8%, grocery inflation is now at less than half the level it reached last August, when the gauge hit a 13.5% annual rate — the fastest rate of food-at-home inflation in more than four decades. Since reaching that crescendo, the food-at-home index has notched an unbroken string of year-over-year declines, a streak that has brought the metric to its lowest level since October 2021, when it came in at 5.4%.
While grocery inflation has been steadily losing steam when viewed from an annual perspective, month-to-month data tells a bit of a different story. The monthly increase in the food-at-home index in May broke a two-month string of declines that reflected the only periods when grocery inflation has retreated month-to-month since January 2021.
Produce played a key role in pushing monthly grocery prices up last month, according to the BLS. Fruits and vegetable prices were up 1.3% in May compared with April, leading the way among the main food-at-home categories the agency tracks.
Prices for apples rose 1.9% month-to-month in May, while lettuce prices surged 5.3%. By contrast, prices for citrus fruits and bananas lost steam.
Meanwhile, prices for dairy and related products were off 1.1% in May compared with April, and prices in the category that includes meats, poultry, fish and eggs moved lower at 1.2% monthly clip. Egg prices declined at an especially fast monthly pace in May, dropping 13.8%.
Consumers continued to take measures in May to deal with inflation, with 57.9% of the respondents to a poll conducted by GlobalData Retail late last month indicating that they traded down to cheaper food and grocery brands — a slightly higher percentage than in April.