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Food prices are finally falling, with one big exception


Paying at the grocery store is finally becoming a little less painful as inflation starts to ease — unless you need baby formula.

Inflation slowed for 10 straight months, according to consumer price index data released this week, slowing to 4.9% in April from 5% in March and giving budgets a reprieve from relentless cost-of-living rises from 2021 onwards. Even better for shoppers, grocery prices fell for a second month, although not every item fell and some even became more expensive, most notably baby milk.

Food prices rose 7.1% over the past year, a sharp rise but an improvement from August, when food inflation peaked at 13.5% year-on-year, the highest level since 1979.

Parents of young children may not notice their grocery bills dropping much: Baby food and formula jumped 4.3% in the month, the biggest one-month increase in BLS data since 1998. Baby formula makers say , that they are raising prices because a new FDA plan to more closely monitor the production of infant formula, designed to prevent a repeat of the 2022 shortage, makes it more expensive to produce.

“These actions will negatively impact supply and significantly increase the cost of producing infant formula,” Murray Kessler, CEO of brand-name infant formula maker Perrigo, said on an earnings call this week. “The significant cost of these new regulatory requirements will be offset by a price increase.”

Egg prices (not shown on the chart) fell 1.5% on the month, after a sharp 10.5% decline in March, giving food buyers a break after prices jumped last year, driven by a bird flu outbreak , as well as for-profit -production by egg companies. Even after the recent decline, egg prices were 21.4% higher than last year.

Other breakfast foods saw the biggest price drops, with oranges, bacon and milk all down more than 2%.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.