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Food prices will continue to rise in 2012, says USDA

December 23, 2011 | 10:49 am

Apples
Get ready for more high food prices going into 2012 –- the USDA is projecting that next year will bring an overall spike of 2.5% to 3.5%.

That’s less than the 3.25% to 3.75% boost that the Department of Agriculture is projecting for 2011. High commodity and energy prices along with soaring demand for food pushed up the value of items including ice cream, lettuce and bread.

Grocery store shoppers this year watched prices rise as much as 4.75% while diners in restaurants saw menu prices go up as much as 2.5%, with a surge near the end of the year.

As of last month, beef prices were up 9.8% compared with the same month last year. Pork prices were up 6.9% and poultry was 3% higher. With fewer fertile hens around, egg prices were 10.2% higher; dairy was up 8.7%.

The Japanese tsunami and earthquake in the spring pushed seafood prices up 5.9%. Fruits and vegetables also saw a bump, with apple prices up 9.6% year over year and potatoes up 12%.

Whole food prices could reach their strongest annual gains in more than three decades, National Restaurant Assn. economist Bruce Grindy wrote earlier this year. What comes next will depend on weather conditions, fuel prices and the value of the dollar, the USDA said.

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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Apples cost 9.6% more in November than they did a year ago. Credit: Jim Witmer / AP Photo / Dayton Daily News

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