While the overall estimate for food inflation was left unchanged in today’s report, the USDA said prices for meat, poultry and fish will jump 5 percent to 6 percent, led by beef, which may climb 8 percent, and pork, which could gain 7.5 percent. The beef estimate was increased by 2.5 percentage points from March and pork was raised 1 percentage point.
“I suspect when December arrives we will see increases of 4 to 6 percent” for the year in overall prices, said Bill Lapp, the president of Advanced Economic Solutions, an agricultural- research company based in Omaha, Nebraska. “The pressure on food prices is clearly on the upside,” said Lapp, a former chief economist for ConAgra Foods Inc.
Earlier this month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said food costs rose 0.7 percent in March, capping a 2 percent gain for the first quarter. Cattle futures traded in Chicago were up 6.3 percent for the year through April 21, and hogs had increased 25 percent, on rising export demand. Crude oil surged 33 percent.