Most preppers are well aware of the impact the cost of food has upon our long range planning for survival in the coming times. While the past few years have been tolerable, sort of, in dealing with the increases we’ve seen on the retail end of our grocery bill, we are now starting to see a visible increase over the last year upon our food bill. For instance, I happen to regularly buy a box of store brand Saltine type crackers almost every week. Over the past few months I have seen the cost go from $1.49 per box to $1.69 per box. My favorite all beef Angus hot dogs have gone from $3.29 to $4.09 per package of eight. Canned meats have gone up as well, and don’t forget fruits and vegetables as well. They have all gone up. And where we haven’t seen a noticeable price increase, we have seen a decrease in the size or content weight of the container in many instances.

Even the government says the price of food is going up. The latest report, Food Price Outlook, 2011, indicates that we will see an average increase of from 3.5 to 4.5 per cent over the year. Imagine what the prices will be like next year when we realize there actually was no recovery from the recession, and that we are still not only in the throes of that recession, but steamrolling towards another worldwide depression.

It will be in our best interests as preppers to make sure our food storage plans are up to par before the end of 2011. Now would be better, of course, but we can’t all be ahead of the game due to many reasons, most of them valid, even though not insurmountable.

The following report can be accessed here at the USDA’s Economic Research Service.

Food Price Outlook, 2011

In 2011, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all food is projected to increase 3 to 4 percent. Food-at-home (grocery store) prices are forecast to rise 3.5 to 4.5 percent, while food-away-from-home (restaurant) prices are forecast to increase 3 to 4 percent. Although food price inflation was relatively weak for most of 2009 and 2010, cost pressures on wholesale and retail food prices due to higher food commodity and energy prices, along with strengthening global food demand, have pushed inflation projections for 2011 upward.

The all-food CPI increased 0.8 percent between 2009 and 2010, the lowest food inflation rate since 1962. Food-at-home prices increased by 0.3 percent—the lowest annual increase since 1967—with cereal and bakery product prices declining 0.8 percent and processed fruit and vegetable prices dropping 1.3 percent. Food-away-from-home prices rose 1.3 percent in 2010, the lowest annual increase for restaurant prices since 1955.

See ERS data on CPI for food and CPI forecasts

March 2011 Prices (Not Seasonally Adjusted)

The CPI for all food increased 0.7 percent from February to March 2011, increased 0.4 percent from January to February 2011, and is now 2.9 percent above the March 2010 level. The food-at-home CPI increased 1 percent in March 2011 and is up 3.6 percent from last March, while the food-away-from-home index was up 0.3 percent in March 2011 and is 1.9 percent above last March. Food commodity and energy price increases over the past 9 months have caused recent increases in grocery store prices, resulting in ERS raising its food-at-home inflation forecast to 3.5 to 4.5 percent for 2011. The all-items CPI was up 1 percent in March, mostly due to higher food and energy prices, and is 2.7 percent above the March 2010 level.

Beef prices increased 2.3 percent in March and are 12.2 percent above last March, with steak prices up 11 percent and ground beef prices up 13.6 percent. Pork prices increased 2.3 percent in March and are 11.2 percent above last March’s level. Poultry prices were unchanged in March and are 2.2 percent above prices last year at this time, with chicken prices up 1.6 percent and other poultry prices (including turkey) up 4.7 percent. As commodity prices and input costs have risen over the past 9 months, beef and pork prices are now significantly higher than in 2010. Increased inflation for beef and pork products is expected for most of 2011, as reflected in ERS’s forecasts—beef prices are now projected to increase 7 to 8 percent and pork prices 6.5 to 7.5 percent in 2011.

Egg prices decreased 0.2 percent in March 2011 (the third consecutive monthly decline), so egg prices are now just 1 percent above the March 2010 level.

Dairy prices were up 1.3 percent in March and are 3.7 percent above the March 2010 level. Within the dairy category, prices changed as follows in March: milk prices were up 3.4 percent and are 6.8 percent above last March’s prices; cheese prices were up 1 percent and are 1.9 percent above last March’s level; ice cream and related product prices were down 1.5 percent but are 4.2 percent above last March’s level; and butter prices increased 1.7 percent this month and are 31.9 percent above last March. In 2010, dairy prices were up only 1.1 percent from 2009 (following a 6.4-percent decline from 2008 to 2009). However, higher projected prices for farm milk in 2011 will lead to increases of 4.5 to 5.5 percent for retail dairy product prices in 2011 based on current ERS forecasts.

Fresh fruit prices decreased a mostly seasonal 1.3 percent in March. The fresh fruit index is down 1.5 percent overall from last year at this time, with apple prices up 2.3 percent, banana prices up 6.3 percent, citrus fruit prices up 8.5 percent, and other fresh fruit prices down 8.2 percent. Fresh fruit prices fell in 7 of the past 14 months, leading to an overall fresh fruit price decline of 0.6 percent in 2010. However, current forecasts predict some price inflation for fruit prices in 2011. The fresh vegetable index increased 4.2 percent in March. Since last year at this time, fresh vegetable prices are up 9.8 percent, with potato prices up 12.1 percent, lettuce prices up 27.3 percent, tomato prices up 10.6 percent, and other fresh vegetable prices up 5 percent. Processed fruit and vegetable prices increased 0.3 percent in March (the seventh monthly increase in the past 14 months) and are 1.2 percent above the March 2010 level.

Cereal and bakery product prices were up 0.5 percent from February to March 2011 and are up 1.8 percent from last year at this time, with bread prices up 2.7 percent and breakfast cereal prices up 2.1 percent over the past year. Although cereal and bakery product prices declined 0.8 percent overall in 2010, higher wheat commodity costs should begin to affect cereal and bakery product prices over the next few months, causing prices to rise 3.5 to 4.5 percent overall in 2011. Sugar and sweets prices were up 0.7 percent in March and are 2.8 percent above last March. Within the nonalcoholic beverages category, prices changed as follows in March: carbonated drink prices were up 1.1 percent and are up 1 percent from March 2010; coffee prices were up 3.9 percent and are up 9.4 percent from last March; and nonfrozen noncarbonated juices and drinks prices were down 0.1 percent in March and are unchanged from the March 2010 level.

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