Basic groceries up 8%, farm report says

The US government says that food inflation is up 4% over the past year. The Farm Bureau, which simply measures prices and does not statistically manipulate prices via substitution or hedonic adjustments, measured an 8% gain in just the last three months.

As you know, I am a huge critic of the US government's use of statistical tricks to paint a much rosier picture of inflation than actually exists. So one of the things I like to do is to track the output of certain organizations that simply measure prices from one period to the next.

This is a shocking report, though, even to me.

Retail food prices at the supermarket increased 8 percent in the first quarter of 2008, according to a survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation

The informal report shows the total cost of 16 basic grocery items in the first quarter of 2008 was $45.03, up about 8 percent or $3.42 from the fourth quarter of 2007. Of the 16 items surveyed, 11 increased, four decreased and one stayed the same in average price compared to the previous quarter.

Compared to one year ago, the overall cost of the items jumped 9 percent. A federation economist blamed rising commodity costs for the increases, especially items made with corn or vegetable oil and wheat and cheese. The survey is not off mark from government data, which tracks consumer prices nationally and regionally.

Check out this list of items that they tracked...looks like a nice, ordinary, basic list to me. This tracks my reality more closely than anything I've heard from my own government in a while.
  • A 5-pound bag of flour showed the largest retail price increase, up 69 cents to $2.39
  • cheddar cheese, up 61 cents to $4.71 per pound
  • corn oil, up 58 cents to $3.01 per 32-oz. bottle
  • a dozen large eggs, up 55 cents to $2.16
  • vegetable oil, up 38 cents to $2.63 per 32-oz. bottle
  • mayonnaise, up 22 cents to $3.14 for a 32-ounce jar
  • Russet potatoes, up 18 cents to $2.47 for a 5-pound bag
  • a 20-oz. loaf of white bread, up 16 cents to $1.78
  • apples, up 13 cents to $1.40 per pound
  • whole fryer chickens, up 9 cents to $1.37 per pound
  • ground chuck, up 4 cents to $2.73 per pound

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at