Fresh veggies got 5.1% more expensive last month, says the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) report. This represents the category’s largest price hike since February 2011. Despite 4 of the 5 major grocery groups falling in price, the overall food index rose 0.2% in April following +0.3% in March and +0.2% in February.
Here’s a closer look how food prices changed between March and April.
Blame the lettuce
Overall, most food prices were down. But increased prices for fruit and veggies were enough to offset all of the other declines. You can blame your salad for the surge: a main reason for the higher prices was lettuce.
Here’s how the numbers break down:
- All fruits and vegetables +2.2%
- Fresh fruits and vegetables +2.9%
- Fresh vegetables alone +5.1%
- Just lettuce +18%
Lettuce has been hit hard this year. The April spike followed impressive upswings of 6.5% in February and 4.7% in March. The reason for the shortage is due to heavy rains in California, which produces more than three-quarters of the country’s lettuce. According to the Produce Alliance, several other crops have been affected. Fortunately, the numbers for May are expected to look up (or down, as the case may be).
Upward trend continues for food at home and away from home
Meanwhile, consumers spent more for food across the board.
- Food at home was up 0.2%, following a 0.5% increase in March
- Food away from home was also up 0.2%, following a similar increase last month
Despite overall food index increase, 4 out of 5 major grocery groups fell in April
There was some good news for consumers in the report. Namely, products throughout the rest of the grocery store got more affordable.
- Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs: -0.6%
- Cereals and bakery products: -0.3%
- Nonalcoholic beverages: -0.3%
- Dairy and related products: -0.2%
Source: Consumer Price Index — April 2017