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US consumers get more relief as grocery prices retreat again

US consumers got some slight relief in August as grocery prices extended an easing trend from the highs of last year.

Food inflation, including in-home and out-of-home consumption measured by the consumer prices index series, rose 4.3% on average in the 12 months through August, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported yesterday (13 September), compared to a peak of 11.4% in August last year.

The annualised rate was down from 4.9% in July and 5.7% in June.

Headline inflation, however, measured by the Bureau’s all-items index, accelerated to 3.7% over the 12 months, from 3.2% in July. The gauge tripled on a month-month level at 0.6% versus 0.2% in July.

Grocery prices for in-home consumption increased 3%, easing from 3.6% in July and 4.5% in June. The cost of eating out, in inflationary terms, cooled to 6.5%, from 7.1% and 7.7%, respectively.

Protein prices were flat in August from a year earlier, with a zero-inflation rate reported for meat, poultry, fish and eggs. The cost of cereals and bakery products, however, rose 6%, with prices for soft drinks up 4.8% and fruit and vegetables 2.1% higher. Dairy prices climbed 0.3% last month.

From July, overall food prices rose 0.2%, the same pace as in July. The in-home measure of grocery prices dipped to 0.2%, from 0.3% a month earlier.

The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs rose 0.8% in August, while cereals and bakery products were up 0.5%.

In some added relief for consumers, dairy prices declined 0.4% in August from a month earlier, after rising 0.5% in July. The fruit and vegetables index fell 0.2%, as did the non-alcoholic beverages gauge.

The UK, where food and soft drinks prices have been rising much faster than the US, despite some recent easing, reports its figures for August next week, on 20 September.

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