Meat prices are finally falling — except for hot dogs

Americans finally got some relief in the grocery store last month as prices fell.

Food prices overall fell a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in July, the first decrease since April of last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday. Prices of food for the home fell 1.1% in July, compared to an increase of 0.7% in June.

Grocery costs have been rising during the pandemic as demand has surged. Although there’s been no shortage in food, supply chain failures have tightened the supply of items reaching stores, which has driven up prices.

Now, it seems prices are starting to stabilize. Meat prices in particular finally fell after soaring in May and June,

From June to July, beef and veal prices went down 8.2%. Uncooked beef roasts and steaks got 8.7% cheaper. Pork prices fell 3.2%. Consumers paid 5.7% less for ham and pork chops, and 2.6% less for chicken.

But there was one type of meat that got more expensive: hot dogs, which have been in high demand. Prices jumped 2.4% last month, perhaps in part because of the Fourth of July holiday.

The fall in meat prices come as producers’ activity starts to return to normal. In the spring, major meat processors closed their plants because workers fell ill with Covid-19, or slowed operations to allow for new safety practices. Production slowed and prices soared.

From April to May, beef and veal prices rose 10.8%. Uncooked beef steak prices jumped 11.6%. Pork chops prices went up 8.4%. Hot dogs got 1.6% more expensive. From May to June, beef and veal prices rose 4.8%. Uncooked beef steak prices went up 5.1%, and pork chops got 4.3% more expensive. Hot dog prices spiked 4.9%.

The meat sector is still not completely back to normal. At Tyson, one of the world’s largest meat processors, some plants “continue to operate at decreased production levels,” said CEO Noel White during a recent analyst call discussing the company’s financial results. But all plants were in operation as of early August.

Other groceries got cheaper in July, as well.

Egg prices fell 4%. Potatoes were 3.1% cheaper. Peanut butter prices went down by 2.4%. Breakfast cereal got 1.8% cheaper. Fresh cakes and cupcake prices fell 1.5%, and cheese was 1.6% lower.

But a few categories got pricier: Soup went up 1.2%, lettuce got 1.6% more expensive and margarine prices jumped 2.2%.

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