business news in context, analysis with attitude

The US Department of Labor yesterday said that overall consumer prices were up 0.1 percent last month, and are up 8.3 percent year-over-year - despite the fact that gas prices have dropped more than 25 percent over the past three months.

The reason: food and shelter inflation is such that economists say is concerning to the Federal Reserve, which is likely to continue raising interest rates until inflation has been beaten back sufficiently.

CNN reports that "food costs spiked 11.4% over the past year, the largest annual increase since May 1979 … Egg prices soared 39.8%, while flour got 23.3% more expensive. Milk rose 17% and the price of bread jumped 16.2%.

"Meat and poultry also grew costlier. Chicken prices jumped 16.6%, while meats rose 6.7% and pork increased 6.8%. Fruits and vegetables together are up 9.4%."

The reason:  "Food prices are affected by global events, such as the war in Ukraine, which affects the costs of wheat and other commodities. Prices also reflect the impact of natural disasters like crop-killing droughts and diseases such as avian flu, which has constrained the supply of eggs and turkeys."

KC's View:

The Wall Street Journal has a story about how food prices have become a matter of some contention among many couples, as they negotiate over which products are necessities, which ones are optional, and which ones can be stricken from shopping lists as families deal with inflation.

Seems to me that retailers can play a role in these conversations - not as marriage counselors, but as resources that can help people make these decisions using information - financial and  nutritional - that is laid out in clear, user-friendly terms.  Retailers make a mistake, I think, if they just raise prices and don't deal with the elephant in the room.