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Prices soar for burgers, bacon, ribs, chicken, baby food and peanut butter

Putting food on the kitchen table became more difficult for U.S. households in September, according to inflation data released Wednesday.

Home food prices jumped 1.2 percent in September, a historically huge gain for a single month and three times the rate of inflation recorded in August. Compared to a year ago, the price of food at home increased 4.6%, according to the consumer price index of the Ministry of Labor.

The price hikes do not reflect what Fed officials have called “base effects” – data showing a sharp rise in prices due to depressed prices in the past. A year ago, prices were also rising rapidly, with home food increasing 4.1%. Compared with September 2019, before the pandemic hit, home food prices rose 8.8%.

The price hikes spilled over into every aisle of the grocery store, with all six major food categories registering higher prices. The index for meats, poultry, fish and eggs increased 2.2% over the past month and 10.5% from a year ago. The fruit and vegetable index rose 0.6% in September, a larger increase than the 0.2% increase recorded in August, and is up 3% from a year ago. The index of cereals and bakery products increased by 1.1% over the month and 2.7% over the past year.

Some of the biggest jumps on an annual basis:

  • Ground beef: + 10.6 percent.
  • Steaks: + 22.1%.
  • Bacon: +19.3 percent.
  • Roast pork, ribs, steaks: +19.2 percent.
  • Chickens: +17.1 percent.
  • Fresh fish: + 10.7 percent.
  • Eggs: +12.6 percent.
  • Peanut butter: + 6.2 percent.
  • Apples: + 7.8 percent.
  • Ham: +7 percent.
  • Baby food: +4.4 percent.

Going out to eat with the family has also become more expensive. Indexes for restaurant meals, including full-service restaurants and fast food outlets, rose 0.6% in September. Prices for full-service meals were up 5.2% from a year ago, while prices for limited-service meals (fast food outlets) were up 6.7%.