Every week I receive an email from Gary Crawford at the USDA Office of Communication called USDA Weekly Radio Features. This week there was one that caught my attention. It was an interview with USDA Economist Carolyn Chelius about the increase in the cost of food at the grocery store. The Consume Price Index (CPI) for food increased by 3.5 percent in 2020. That was the largest increase in the average yearly cost of food at the grocery store since 2011.

Making it even more dramatic was that the increase in 2020 was 75 percent above the historical average increase. I guess it was not surprising that the reason for the big increase in food prices was the COVOD-19 pandemic. When you think about it, It's logical as we saw big increases in the price of meat. Beef and veal were up 9.6 percent, pork up 6.3 percent and poultry up 5.3 percent.

Last spring when many meat processing plans were forced to slow down and in some cases shut down for a while really really backed up livestock on farms ready for processing. Many livestock producers were forced into the tough decision to euthanize some livestock. That plus really strong export demand for meat is likely the reason for the increased cost of meat at the grocery store. By the way, the USDA anticipates food prices will decrease slightly in 2021!

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