TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The December inflation report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that, generally, grocery prices were starting to go down, with some exceptions for fresh fruits and vegetables. But that report only covers changes to the prices we see in stores.
When people talk inflation, they usually refer to the Consumer Price Index. Separately, there’s a report that tracks price changes on the other side of buying and selling. The Producer Price Index is different, it covers price increases that hit suppliers and producers. Think business owners, restaurants and bakeries, places that make food for you or create what you buy in stores or when you go out to eat.
Both indexes are used by the Federal Reserve, the U.S. central bank, to measure the health of the national economy.
The latest PPI showed that the cost of items like scrap metal and fresh fruit were still up, but not has high as previous months. Of all of the food products and items listed in the report, only one had a double digit percentage increase in December 2021, and a significant jump at that—eggs.
According to the BLS, December’s price decreases generally were caused by gas prices finally going down, with costs dropping 6.1% after months of increases. However, prices for eggs rose almost eight times more than gas costs fell.
The PPI showed that of all the products with prices increases, the biggest hike was for fresh eggs, which had prices that 46.9% from November to December 2021. Compared to December 2020, the prices were up a massive 81.9%.
That’s sounds like a big increase, because it is. The PPI is one way the U.S. government measures food price fluctuations and their causes. Influences on what the U.S. Department of Agriculture calls price volatility, how much what we pay in stores goes up or down, are focused on four things.
- Price of materials
- Transportation costs
- Manufacturing costs
- Retail costs
We already know things are getting more expensive because of fuel costs going up. Gasoline is expensive, though the price at the pump did go down at the end of 2021. While gas prices are starting to stabilize, rising fuel costs fueled record levels of inflation throughout the past year. Those costs were passed on to businesses to bring in the products and materials they needed to meet customer demand.
Then those prices were passed on to us, the consumers.
So, as inflation continues and the U.S. government works to stabilize and reduce the higher costs to American shoppers, should we be worried about going to the grocery store and going out to eat?
The short answer is…maybe.
PPI is an important number to watch, because it tells us how much our sellers are paying to bring in products, and how that will push up prices in stores. “Commodity prices vary from month to month but food and energy, which make up nearly one quarter of PPI statistics, are the major source of volatility in prices when tracking PPI,” according to CNBC.
Eggs are used in a lot of commonly bought products, like bread or pie crusts or pasta. They’re also a common breakfast item, appearing on menus of restaurants and in fridges in most homes. Eggs are everywhere. With the PPI up so high for eggs, it’s a safe assumption that prices in stores will rise, though not necessarily by the same extent.