Housing prices may be sky-high in many parts of the country, but Americans are thankfully catching a break at the supermarket: Grocery prices in July of 2016 were about 1.6 percent lower than they were a year before. Considering groceries make up a large portion of your budget, the dip has been a welcome one.
When dealing with the economy, however, what goes down usually comes up—and that goes for food prices, too. The USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) recently released projections for grocery price trends in 2017, and it looks like costs in a few categories will increase in the coming year. The increases may be small (in many cases less than 2 percent), but they can have an effect on your wallet over the course of the year.
Poultry prices have dropped 3.2 percent in 2016 so far, and the USDA expects them to drop another 1 or 2 percent before the end of the year. According to the USDA, the avian flu, or Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), led to partial bans on U.S. poultry exports, which resulted in an increased supply and, in turn, led to lower prices. This is projected to change in 2017. Next year, you can expect the cost of your poultry to increase between 1.5 and 2.5 percent (chicken breast costs, on average, $3.18 per pound, so a 2 percent increase would add roughly 6 cents per pound).
Egg prices are extremely volatile, the USDA points out, and 2016 saw a 29 percent drop from 2015. The ERS doesn't expect the low prices to stick around, though: They predict egg prices will rise between 1 and 2 percent next year.
Warmer weather has led to an increase in cattle grazing, which means cattle have been producing more milk. This has created a dairy surplus that, in turn, has decreased prices for the year. However, the ERS expects the price of dairy products to increase between 1.5 and 2.5 percent next year (meaning a gallon of milk would increase from about $3.30 to $3.36), due to the recent decline in dairy imports.
4. FRESH FRUITS
The California drought could have wreaked havoc on the prices of fruits and vegetables this year, but the USDA says a stronger U.S. dollar has made overseas produce sales more difficult, creating a higher supply at home and mitigating price increases. Still, the ERS forecasts the price of fresh fruit (which is up 3 percent from July 2015) to increase another 1.5 to 2.5 percent between now and January. Those prices will be even higher next year—by 1 to 2 percent.
Fats and oils, like peanut butter and margarine, will remain pretty stable for the rest of the year, but next year they're expected to rise 1.5 to 2.5 percent.
6. RED MEAT
Lovers of red meat have likely enjoyed the nearly 8 percent decrease in beef and veal prices this year. Like poultry, there’s been a decline in U.S. beef exports, so there’s more domestic supply and less demand. The ERS says prices will drop another 4 to 5 percent this year, but will rise an estimated 2 to 3 percent in 2017.