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As Inflation Drops, Consumer Beef Prices Rise

Photo: Daniel Krieger

Americans are taking a financial hit at grocery stores and restaurants. The price of food, whether purchased for home cooking or ordered while dining out, continued to increase in February, even as the overall rate of consumer inflation dropped. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index, released today, showed the largest rise in monthly food prices since September 2011, driven by a half percent increase in the price for food at home.

It's been a tough year for carnivores. Prices for meat, poultry, and eggs rose 1.2 percent in February, bringing the total increase over the past year up to 4 percent. Beef and veal prices, amid droughts in the American West, were up 4 percent, the largest increase since November 2003, bringing the total annual hike to 5.4 percent.

Vegetarians have been better off, with fresh vegetable prices down 0.2 percent in February and 3 percent yearly. But when combined with fresh fruits, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research service expects those numbers, along with many others, to be up 2.5-3.5 percent through 2014. The price of full-service meals away from home at restaurants and elsewhere increased by 0.4 percent, or 2.3 percent over the past year.

· February Consumer Price Index [U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics]
· Consumer Prices Forecast [USDA Economic Research Service]

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