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Food: What’s In Your Basket? How Fast Are Prices Rising?

The BLS says the CPI rose 2.1% in December from a year ago. Food rose 1.6%. I called the BLS and filled in some numbers.

In CPI Up 0.1 Percent: How Much is the CPI Understated? I disputed the BLS’s year-over-year overall inflation figure of 2.1%, specifically citing housing and the cost of health insurance.

I found the reported food increase reasonable, others didn’t. Whether or not you find the food index believable depends on two things.

  1. What you buy
  2. How you shop

Reader AWC pointed out this BLS article from March of 2017: Prices for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs down 7 percent since August 2015 peak.​

I downloaded the data and started plugging in numbers for December 2017. The index numbers did not match, so I called the BLS. The person directed me to data downloads which I also found on my own. I still could not match the downloaded numbers.

What happened is the data for the the preceding chart was indexed to 2007 but the main index is to 1982.

I asked the BLS agent for year-over-year increases of items and the percentages matched.

CPI Select Food Items

I calculated all but the last row from the March article after verifying percentages with the BLS. The last row was read to me over the phone.

I created the main graph from the above chart.

How Do You Shop?

​Your percentages may vary substantially from the above chart.

Mine are cheaper because I buy items on sale and freeze them. Sale prices fluctuate less than non-sale prices.

Properly wrapped food will last a year or more.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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