News

Meat, seafood prices soaring on drought and disease

Meat, seafood prices soaring on drought and disease

FOOD COSTS:Wholesale beef prices are forecast to jump by 8 percent to 9 percent in 2014, although rising imports are helping to offset some of the decline in domestic supplies. Photo: clipart.com

By Ros Krasny

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Overall U.S. food inflation will remain near the historic norm in 2014, even as prices for meat and seafood are pushed higher by disease and widespread drought, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Friday.

Prices for shelf-stable and processed items made by companies such as General Mills and Kraft Foods Group are relatively flat.

“It appears that supermarkets are maintaining minimal price inflation on packaged food products, possibly in an effort to keep prices competitive in light of rising cost pressures for most perishable items,” the USDA said.

But drought conditions in California and other states could further drive up prices of fresh produce and beef, the USDA warned.

The agency forecast wholesale pork prices to jump by 10 percent to 11 percent in 2014, hurt by declining supplies after a virus has killed some 7 million piglets in the past year.

Wholesale beef prices are forecast to jump by 8 percent to 9 percent in 2014, although rising imports are helping to offset some of the decline in domestic supplies.

Food inflation, which includes items bought in grocery stores and in restaurants, is seen at 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent this year and then subsiding to 2 percent to 3 percent in 2015, the USDA said in its first forecast for the new year. Since 1990, grocery store prices have risen by an average of 2.8 percent per year.

The agency noted a recent jump in vegetable prices but said it was too soon to tie the move to the severe drought in California, the largest U.S. grower of fruits and vegetables.

“The ongoing drought in California could potentially have large and lasting effects on fruit, vegetable, dairy and egg prices, and drought conditions in Texas and Oklahoma could drive beef prices up even further,” the USDA said.

Fresh fruit prices have risen 5.8 percent in the year through June compared with a year-ago, though prices fell 4.1 percent in June, reflecting a decline in citrus prices and a seasonal shift to summer fruits.

The latest weekly drought monitor from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows much of California in an extreme or exceptional drought, the two most severe categories. Pockets of Texas are also in exceptional drought.

U.S. fish and seafood prices were forecast to rise by 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent this year, up from last month’s forecast of a 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent gain.

“In general, fish and seafood prices have been climbing due to decreased supplies of certain species and increased consumer demand, as other meats have become more expensive,” the USDA said.

(Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Bill Trott and Leslie Adler)

Recent Headlines

in National, Sports

Lloyd hits stunning hat-trick as U.S. tops Japan for third Women’s World Cup title

Updated
carliworldcup

The Americans avenged their loss to Japan in the 2011 final and earned a record third title and their first since 1999.

in Local Sports

Post 7 takes the Spokane 4th of July Wood Bat Classic

Fresh
post 7 spokane tournament

The Bellingham Post 7 American Legion baseball team has won the Spokane 4th of July Wood Bat Classic beating the Spokane Expos on Sunday.

in Local Sports

Seattle’s Cruz will get the start in the All-Star Game

Fresh
Seattle Mariners' Nelson Cruz celebrates after he hit a walk-off RBI single in the ninth inning of a baseball game to score Mariners' Seth Smith and give the Mariners a 11-10 win over the Texas Rangers, Sunday, April 19, 2015, in Seattle.

Seattle Mariner Nelson Cruz has been named as starter for the American League in the upcoming MLB All-Star Game. Cruz will get the start as the designated hitter.

in Local Sports

Seattle native Hope Solo wins the Golden Gloves award

Fresh
hope solo world cup golden gloves

U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, as Seattle native and former University of Washington Star, won the Golden Gloves award as the top goalkeeper in the Women's World Cup.

in Sports

U.S. capture Women’s World Cup title

Fresh
womens world cup win

Carli Lloyd records a hat trick and the USA claims the Women's World Cup!