Poultry, eggs, pork, beef and veal are all projected to cost three to four percent more at the grocery store in 2013. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Price report, released February 25, nearly all animal proteins are expected to make that leap.

Dairy products, meanwhile is projected to jump higher, with estimates at 3.5 to 4.5 percent.

“We’ve been waiting for these higher costs from the drought to hit the retail system,” USDA analyst Ephraim Liebtag said during an agency broadcast. “This, of course, is largely a function of what we’ve seen with higher corn and soybean products in response to the drought.”

On the average, the same products for purchase at restaurants is projected to increase at a slightly slower rate of 2.5 to 3.5 percent.

Fish and seafood, which is less dependent on feed grain prices, is not projected to have as large of a cost increase. In the food at home category, seafood is only expected to jump 2.5 to 3.5 percent.
The drought, however, has not just affected the price of animal products. Of all commodities listed in the report, fresh vegetables are forecast for the highest increase, showing a leap of 4 to 5 percent.

Prices from previous year

While the projected changes for 2013 seem significant, poultry prices will actually be increasing at a smaller rate than it did in 2012. The price of poultry products saw a 5.6 percent increase from January 2012 to January 2013.

That increase in poultry price was the biggest jump, percentage-wise, of all meat products in the food at home category. Beef and veal products were the next biggest mover, seeing a 3.2 percent increase. Meanwhile, some products lowered in price. Eggs dropped 2.2 percent in price over the past year, and pork saw the largest decrease at 2.6 percent.

When compared to December 2012, the January price of poultry and pork both edged up 0.6 percent, with fish and seafood seeing the biggest hike at 0.8 percent. Eggs lowered in cost for the month by 1.4 percent.

Historical comparison

Liebtag stated that the projected food cost increases for 2013 are larger than normal, but on the average, they are not as large as they were in 2007 or 2008.

All commodities on the Food Price Index increased both years. Egg prices saw the biggest jump during both terms, going up 29.2 percent in 2007 and another 14 percent in 2008, while dairy products went up 7.4 and 8 percent, respectively. Poultry prices went up by 5.1 percent in 2007 and another 5 percent the following year.

The Food Price Index showed figures from 2005 through 2010, with 2009 being the year with the smallest cumulative change. The overall meat and poultry average price only went up a half percent, with the cost of pork, beef and veal lowering. Poultry edged up 2.3 percent in 2009. 

Eggs also returned to lower levels in 2009, dropping in price 14.7 percent.

In 2010, protein prices at the grocery store had an overall increase of only 1.9 percent. Poultry and seafood products actually dropped 0.1 percent during that year, while all other proteins saw only modest increases.
Only minor changes were reported in 2005 and 2006. Poultry prices jumped 2 percent in 2005, but mostly rebounded in 2006, dropping 1.8 percent.