Food Price Outlook
The USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) Food Price Outlook (FPO) provides data on food prices and forecasts annual food price changes up to 18 months in the future. On a monthly basis, USDA, ERS forecasts the annual percentage change in food prices for the current year and, beginning in July each year, for the following year. These forecasts are primarily based on the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Producer Price Index (PPI) data. USDA, ERS typically releases its monthly update on the 25th of the month; however, if the 25th falls on a weekend or a holiday, the monthly update will be published earlier.
The all-items CPI measures the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a representative market basket of consumer goods and services. The CPI for food is the component of the all-items CPI measuring the changes in retail food prices. USDA, ERS examines changes in the CPI for food and constructs forecasts of the CPI for food. Changes in the structures of food and agricultural economies add complexity to forecasting the CPI for food. However, these forecasts provide important signals to farmers, processors, wholesalers, consumers, and policymakers.
USDA, ERS also analyzes and forecasts the PPI for farm-level agricultural and wholesale food markets. Like the CPI, the PPI measures price changes over time; however, instead of changes in retail prices, the PPI measures the average change in prices paid to domestic producers for their output. The PPI represents data for nearly every industry in the goods-producing sector of the economy. Changes in farm-level and wholesale-level food PPIs are of particular interest in forecasting food CPIs.
USDA, ERS periodically updates and improves FPO forecasting methods. In January 2023, USDA, ERS introduced a revised price forecasting methodology for the Food Price Outlook. The Consumer Price Index, Producer Price Index, and Historical Data files in the table below—as well as the Summary Findings—are constructed based on the revised methodology. See the USDA, ERS report on price forecasting methodology (August 2022):Time-Series Methods for Forecasting and Modeling Uncertainty in the Food Price Outlook
In July 2023, ERS discontinued forecasts based on the prior forecasting methodology used since 2011. Archived historical forecasts remain available, and monthly forecasts as originally published are available as data files in the table below (“Archived Data”) since 2003 for CPI and 2014 for PPI.
In addition to the current monthly forecasts, USDA, ERS also constructs a historical series of CPI and PPI forecasts based on the current forecast methods. The historical forecast series shows the point estimates and prediction intervals that would have been produced in each month based the data available at the time and the current methods. The table below includes these data under “Historical Data,” with CPI and PPI prediction intervals from 2003 forward. The historical data series may differ from the archived forecasts due to changes in forecasting methods over time.
Note: In September 2023, ERS revised the historical data series to enable reproducible estimates from the pseudo-random number generation process used to produce the estimates. Monthly forecasts as originally published prior to September 2023 are tracked in the “Archived Data” files. Forecasts published since September 2023 are based on the current process and are in the “Historical Data” files.
Data Training Webinar: ERS economists Matthew MacLachlan and Megan Sweitzer provide an online overview of the data and analysis available from the Food Price Outlook data product, highlight its uses, and demonstrate how to find the data.
|Data Set||Last Updated||Next Update|
|Consumer Price Index|
|Changes in Consumer Price Indexes, 2021 through 2024||11/22/2023||12/21/2023|
|Annual percent changes in selected Consumer Price Indexes, 1974 through 2022||5/25/2023||5/24/2024|
|Producer Price Index|
|Changes in Producer Price Indexes, 2021 through 2024||11/22/2023||12/21/2023|
|Annual percent changes in selected Producer Price Indexes, 1974 through 2022||5/25/2023||5/24/2024|
|Historical Consumer Price Index (CPI) forecast series||11/22/2023||12/21/2023|
|Historical Producer Price Index (PPI) forecast series||11/22/2023||12/21/2023|
|Consumer Price Index (CPI) forecasts, previously published estimates||9/25/2023|
|Producer Price Index (PPI) forecasts, previously published estimates||9/25/2023|