Iowans will not be paying as much for food this year as previously predicted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The agency has reduced its forecast for food price inflation this year to one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half (1.5 to 2.5) percent. USDA Economist Ricky Volpe says the previous prediction was based primarily on the drought in 2012. “We were initially looking at a three to four percent increase, which was above average, but that was before we knew we were going to have these lower fuel prices, the strengthening U.S. dollar, and the overall improvement in the economy,” Volpe says.
One of the biggest bits of good news for consumers, according to Volpe, is the downward revision of price increases for dairy products. “We were initially forecasting pretty strong price increases (for dairy) for 2013, but it turns out that we saw most of the impacts of the drought at the tail end of 2012,” Volpe says. “We’re now on track for very moderate price increases for dairy for the foreseeable future, one to two percent for 2013.” And although beef prices won’t be increasing as much as expected, Volpe says beef will remain expensive this year.
“We’re now looking at beef prices to increase between two and three percent on the year, but many beef prices have reached record or near record levels across super markets in the U.S. So, inflation for the beef category may be small in percentage terms, but it’s not as if consumers are seeing any relief there,” Volpe says. High inflation is still forecast for poultry, with prices expected to rise three to four percent, according to the USDA. Egg prices should rise two to three percent this year.