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Food prices grow, as does public's appetite to eat out

Wheat Farm

Does it seem like your food bill has been getting bigger?

You’re right. According to data released Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, Americans spent $1.24 billion on their total food bill in 2010, which included trips to the grocery store and dining out in restaurants. That represented a 3.4% increase over the nearly $1.2 billion they spent in 2009.

The amount spent on alcoholic beverages, both packaged drinks sold at retail and those sold at restaurants and hotels, grew to $155.9 million, up from $147.7 million.

Some of this increase came from rising food prices, said Annette Clauson, an agricultural economist with the Economic Research Service.

“Some of this upswing is because people are buying more food and spending more on food outside the home,” Clauson said. “We’re seeing people going back to restaurants. And restaurants have been offering discounts and meal deals to get the customers back.”

The food numbers were released on the same day that data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that –- with the exception of gasoline prices -– the cost of most things rose in June, including clothing, medical care and automobiles. Gas prices, however, dropped 6.8%.

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-- P.J. Huffstutter

www.twitter.com/pjhuffstutter

Photo: A farmer loads harvested winter wheat into a wagon in Illinois. Credit: Daniel Acker / Bloomberg

 
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