2020 food prices were above 20 year average, COVID-19 to blame

The final food price inflation figures are in for 2020, and they show the sharpest increase in nearly a decade.

Food prices at the supermarket last year jumped by an average 3.5 percent, 75 percent above the 20 year historical level of inflation. A USDA economist says that the pandemic is to blame.

According to Carolyn Chelius, “Bottlenecks in supply were distribution systems that were formerly serving restaurant markets, and now having to pivot to serve retail markets. There were also specific outbreaks in the meat sector, which reduced output and then drove up prices... the largest price increase was in beef and veal, 9.6 percent... pork increased 6.3 percent, poultry which increased 5.6 percent.”

She also says that she expects food prices to gradually drop this year, but probably not below the 2020 average.


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