Summary Findings

Food Price Outlook, 2024

This page summarizes the May 2024 forecasts, which incorporate the April 2024 Consumer Price Index and Producer Price Index numbers.

See the Overview page for Consumer Price Index and Producer Price Index datasets.

Consumer Price Index for Food (not seasonally adjusted)

The all-items Consumer Price Index (CPI), a measure of economy-wide inflation, increased 0.4 percent from March 2024 to April 2024 and was up 3.4 percent from April 2023. The CPI for all food increased 0.2 percent from March 2024 to April 2024, and food prices were 2.2 percent higher than in April 2023.

The level of food price inflation varies depending on whether the food was purchased for consumption at home or away from home:

  • The food-at-home (grocery store or supermarket food purchases) CPI increased 0.1 percent from March 2024 to April 2024 and was 1.1 percent higher than April 2023; and
  • The food-away-from-home (restaurant purchases) CPI increased 0.3 percent in April 2024 and was 4.1 percent higher than April 2023.

Food prices are expected to continue to decelerate in 2024 compared to recent years. In 2024, all food prices are predicted to increase 2.2 percent, with a prediction interval of 1.0 to 3.5 percent. Food-at-home prices are predicted to increase 1.2 percent, with a prediction interval of -0.7 to 3.1 percent, and food-away-from-home prices are predicted to increase 4.2 percent, with a prediction interval of 3.4 to 4.9 percent.

The Food Price Outlook tracks and forecasts the annual percentage change in prices by averaging observed and forecast prices for all months in the current year compared to all months in the previous year. The Food Price Outlook forecasting methods are based entirely on statistical models that are fitted to recent trends in the data. These methods provide prediction intervals that narrow over the forecast period as more data become available and the degree of uncertainty declines. Discussions of price changes focus on the midpoint of these forecast intervals (titled “Mid” in the workbooks) and use the lower and upper bounds of a 95-percent prediction interval—based on past data, the annual level of inflation is expected to fall in this interval 19 out of 20 times—to reflect the level of uncertainty (titled “Lower” and “Upper” in the workbooks, respectively). For a summary of forecasting methods used in the Food Price Outlook, see ERS Refines Forecasting Methods in the Food Price Outlook.

Recent Historical Overview

Between the 1970s and early 2000s, food-at-home prices and food-away-from-home prices increased at similar rates. However, between 2009 and 2019, their growth rates diverged; while food-at-home prices deflated in 2016 and 2017, monthly food-away-from-home prices rose consistently. Differences between the costs of serving prepared food at restaurants and retailing food in supermarkets and grocery stores partly explain this difference.

In 2020, food-at-home prices increased 3.5 percent and food-away-from-home prices increased 3.4 percent. This convergence was largely driven by a rapid increase in food-at-home prices following the onset of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, particularly for meats and poultry, while food-away-from-home price inflation remained similar to its 2019 rate. In 2021, all food prices increased 3.9 percent as prices began accelerating in the second-half of the year. No food categories tracked by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Economic Research Service (ERS) decreased in price in 2021 compared with their prices in 2020.

In 2022, food prices increased by 9.9 percent, faster than in any year since 1979. Food-at-home prices increased by 11.4 percent, while food-away-from-home prices increased by 7.7 percent. Food prices rose partly due to a Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak that affected egg and poultry prices, along with the conflict in Ukraine, which compounded other economy-wide inflationary pressures such as high energy costs. All food price categories increased by more than 5 percent, and all food categories grew faster than their historical average rate.

In 2023, food prices increased by 5.8 percent. Food price growth slowed in 2023 as economy-wide inflationary pressures, supply chain issues, and wholesale food prices eased from 2022. Food-at-home prices increased by 5.0 percent, and food-away-from-home prices increased by 7.1 percent. While prices increased for all food categories except for pork, prices grew more slowly in 2023 than in 2022 for all categories.

CPI Forecast Changes This Month

From March to April 2024, prices increased for nine food-at-home categories, declined for five categories, and remained stable for one category. Prices were lower in April 2024 than April 2023 for four food-at-home categories: eggs, fish and seafood, dairy products, and other meats. Prices are predicted to increase in 2024 for 12 food-at-home categories and decrease for 3 categories, though the measures of uncertainty do not rule out either an increase or decrease in prices during the year for most categories. The midpoint forecasts for the aggregate categories of all food, food at home, and food away from home were unchanged from last month. In 2024, prices for most food categories are predicted to change at a rate below their 20-year historical average.

Beef and veal prices rose by 0.8 percent in April 2024, following a 0.7 percent increase in March, and were 7.0 percent higher than April 2023. Over the year, beef and veal prices have risen the fastest of all categories due to tight supplies and strong demand. Beef and veal prices are predicted to increase 4.0 percent in 2024, with a prediction interval of -1.0 to 9.3 percent. Poultry prices decreased by 0.6 percent in April 2024 but were 0.9 percent higher than April 2023. Year-over-year poultry price growth has stabilized below historical average rates for the past year. Poultry prices are predicted to increase 0.9 percent in 2024, with a prediction interval of -1.3 to 3.2 percent.

Retail egg prices decreased by 3.9 percent in April 2024, following 7 straight months of increases. An outbreak of HPAI that began in 2022 contributed to elevated egg prices by reducing the U.S. egg-layer flock. After egg prices peaked in January 2023, they declined or stabilized through much of 2023. However, new confirmations of HPAI in egg layers since November 2023 have driven price increases in recent months. Prices in April 2024 were 9.0 percent below those in April 2023, when prices remained elevated following the initial outbreak of HPAI. Price impacts of the ongoing outbreak will be monitored closely. Egg prices are predicted to increase 1.8 percent in 2024, with a prediction interval of -7.8 to 13.2 percent. This wide prediction interval reflects the volatility in retail egg prices.

Prices for dairy products rose by 0.5 percent in April 2024 but were 1.3 percent lower than April 2023 due to higher production. Dairy products are one of three categories predicted to decline in price in 2024. Prices for dairy products are predicted to decrease 0.7 percent in 2024, with a prediction interval of -3.0 to 1.7 percent.

In April 2024, prices of fats and oils increased by 1.0 percent and prices were 2.8 percent higher than April 2023. Prices for fats and oils are predicted to increase 3.1 percent in 2024, with a prediction interval of 0.0 to 6.4 percent.

Prices decreased by 0.8 percent for fresh vegetables in April 2024, and fresh vegetable prices were 2.3 percent higher than April 2023. Fresh vegetables are predicted to experience slower price growth than many categories in 2024, continuing a similar trend from 2022 and 2023, due partially to lower input prices. Prices for fresh vegetables are predicted to increase 0.6 percent in 2024, with a prediction interval of -2.5 to 4.0 percent.

Producer Price Index for Food (not seasonally adjusted)

A Producer Price Index (PPI) resembles a CPI in that it reflects price changes over time. However, instead of retail prices, a PPI provides a measure of the average prices paid to domestic producers for their output. PPIs are reported for nearly every industry in the goods-producing sector of the economy. Three major PPI commodity groups are of interest to food markets: unprocessed foodstuffs and feedstuffs, processed foods and feeds, and finished consumer foods. These farm- and wholesale-level prices give a general sense of price movements across various stages of production in the U.S. food supply chain.

The PPIs are typically far more volatile than the downstream CPIs. Price volatility decreases as products move from the farm to the wholesale sector to the retail sector. Because of multiple processing stages in the U.S. food system, the CPI typically lags movements in the PPI. The PPI is thus a useful tool for understanding what may soon happen to the CPI.

USDA, ERS does not forecast industry-level PPIs for unprocessed, processed, and finished foods and feeds. However, these prices have historically shown a strong correlation with the all-food and food-at-home CPIs.

PPI Forecast Changes This Month

In 2024, prices are predicted to increase for seven PPI categories and decrease for six categories, though the measures of uncertainty for most PPI categories do not rule out either an increase or decrease in prices in 2024. Greater volatility in farm- and wholesale-level prices lead to wider prediction intervals for these products compared to retail-level products.

Prices for wholesale pork increased by 2.9 percent in April 2024 and were 18.3 percent higher than April 2023. Prices for wholesale pork have risen in 2024 due to higher demand after declining on average in both 2022 and 2023. Prices for wholesale pork are predicted to increase 10.2 percent in 2024, with a prediction interval of -0.8 to 23.9 percent.

Prices for wholesale poultry grew 4.4 percent in April 2024, the third straight month of price increases, reversing the trend of declining prices in 2023. Wholesale poultry prices were 1.7 percent higher than April 2023. Prices for wholesale poultry are predicted to increase 5.2 percent in 2024, with a prediction interval of -2.6 to 14.6 percent.

Prices for farm-level eggs increased by 7.9 percent in April 2024. The ongoing HPAI outbreak continues to affect egg-layer flocks, with volatile effects on prices. In April 2024, prices for farm-level eggs were 11.7 percent higher than April 2023, when prices were receding following the initial onset of HPAI in 2022. The effects of recent HPAI cases on farm-level egg prices will be closely monitored. Farm-level egg prices are predicted to increase 24.4 percent in 2024, with a prediction interval of -15.4 to 107.3 percent. Egg prices are the most volatile category tracked by USDA, ERS, leading to a wide prediction interval.

Prices for farm-level fruits increased by 7.3 percent in April 2024, following large decreases in February and March. Farm-level fruit prices were 7.5 percent lower than April 2023 due to increased production and supply. In contrast, prices decreased by 18.7 percent for farm-level vegetables in April 2024, and prices were 23.9 percent lower than April 2023. Prices for farm-level fruits are predicted to decrease by 3.3 percent in 2024, with a prediction interval of -10.5 to 4.7 percent. Prices for farm-level vegetables are predicted to increase 0.2 percent in 2024, with a prediction interval of -14.8 to 20.5 percent.

For official USDA farm-level price forecasts, see World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates at a Glance. For additional information, detailed explanations, and analyses of farm-level prices, see USDA Economic Research Service Outlook publications including Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry, Oil Crops, Wheat, Fruit and Tree Nuts, and Vegetables and Pulses.

See the Overview page for Consumer Price Index and Producer Price Index datasets.