- The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose at a 6.2% annual rate in October, the highest increase in 30 years, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Wednesday.
- The CPI rose 0.9% on all items in October compared to the prior month, a steep increase from the 0.4% increase notched in September. The food-at-home price index rose 1% in October after rising 1.2% in September.
- October’s inflation numbers were higher than economists expected and highlight the growing financial pressure consumers are facing as the holidays approach and the pandemic wears on.
Food-at-home prices grew 5.4% on a seasonally unadjusted basis during the 12-month period that ended in October, the BLS reported Wednesday. That compares to the 4.5% annual increase in September.
Protein prices are getting hit especially hard at a time when consumers are planning menus with selections like turkey and beef for the holidays. The index for meats, poultry, fish and eggs increased 11.9%, and the index for beef rose 20.1%. The index for pork rose 14.1% — the largest annual increase for that category since December 1990, according to the BLS.
All of the other major grocery food group indexes rose on an annual basis in October, ranging from a 1.8% increase in dairy and related products to 4.5% for nonalcoholic beverages.
Overall food prices, which also include food consumed away from home, rose 0.9% on a monthly basis in October and 5.3% on an annual basis.
The latest inflation numbers indicate that consumers’ already pronounced dissatisfaction with high food costs could worsen. Grocers are able to pass along some inflation to consumers, but the increasingly high rate coupled with growing consumer ire could prompt them to absorb more costs. This week, Aldi announced it would sell all the ingredients to make a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people for under $30.
Economists are expecting a slowdown in inflation rates next year. In a report issued on Oct. 25, the USDA’s Economic Research Service said it predicts food-at-home inflation will range from 1.5% to 2.5% in 2022, compared to the 2.5% to 3.5% increase it expects this year.