May 14, 2003
Food inflation was much lower in 2002, only 1.5 percent, compared with 2.8 percent in each of the two previous years. Decreases or smaller increases in prices for pork, dairy, fish and seafood, chicken, and beef and veal were partially offset by higher prices for fresh fruits and vegetables.
Pork prices decreased 2.3 percent in 2002, after increasing 3.7 percent during the prior year. Pork production, imports, and beginning-of-the-year stocks all increased in 2002. Prices for dairy products decreased 2.0 percent, after increasing 5.8 percent in 2001. Fish and seafood prices declined 1.1 percent last year, following a 0.1-percent decrease in 2001. Chicken prices decreased 0.1 percent last year, after increasing 5.1 percent in 2001. Beef and veal prices rose just 0.6 percent in 2002, following a 6.2-percent increase in 2001.
The fresh fruits index increased 4.7 percent in 2002, after increasing just 0.6 percent in 2001. The California navel orange crop was delayed by rain and the Florida citrus crop showed the effect of a 3-year drought. Fresh vegetable prices increased 6.4 percent last year, after decreasing 4.1 percent in 2001. Tomato prices rose 9.2 percent in 2002, as rain and cool weather limited Florida supplies.
These data are from the BLS Consumer Price Index program. For additional information, see "Consumer prices up slightly more in 2002, led by energy and hospital services" by Todd Wilson, Monthly Labor Review, March 2003. Annual changes are December-to-December changes.