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White House Touts Easing Grocery Inflation, Supply Chain Improvements

Biden Administration predicts continued food-at-home declines but heeds impact of still-elevated prices
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
White House chart
The White House shared recent grocery inflation data in a special blog post.

The Biden Administration weighed in on grocery inflation this week, publishing a blog on recent price softening trends in the sector. The online document underscored the impact of elevated food costs on consumers, pointing out that grocery prices are a harbinger of overall inflation for many individuals and families: “When groceries become relatively more expensive, households incorporate that experience into their expectations of future overall inflation in the near future.”

While noting that Consumer Price Index (CPI) data for April revealed declines across several food-at-home categories including eggs and produce, the White House shared that the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) prefers to look at longer averages like three-month comparisons. In that sense, the authors shared that grocery inflation in April was down 0.9% on a three-month basis.

Additionally, the White House explained how the CEA’s assessment of the intensity of grocery price pressures include both “strong share” and “weak share” measurements. The strong share the share of grocery components with three-month annualized inflation more than one standard deviation above historic means remains higher than normal but fell 31% from its May 2022 peak. Meanwhile, the weak share the share of grocery components with three-month annualized inflation one standard deviation below historic means  has risen to 4% from a low of 0% in April 2022. “Together, these point to less upward pressure on grocery inflation,” the writers concluded.

Ahead of CPI data for May set to be released on June 13, the Administration shared the CEA’s projection that grocery inflation will continue to cool but remain above pre-pandemic levels for at least the rest of this calendar year. “There are also other sources of grocery price pressure, including a robust labor market that is supporting higher wages for workers along the food supply chain,” the blog post acknowledged.

Also this week, the Biden Administration published a report card on its efforts to build a stronger supply chain in the wake of bottlenecks and shortages that marked much of the past few years. The White House reported increased access to transportation and warehousing capacity, as well as improved delivery times and declines in transportation costs.

The news briefing shared that the nation’s ports moved a record 25.8 million units of cargo in 2021 and 25.5 million units of cargo in 2022 through increased collaboration across the logistics industry. Of note to the food retailing business, the press office cited a statistic showing that 92% of foods at grocery stores and drug stores are now in stock and above pre-pandemic levels.

The full report card recapping the Administration's effort and collaboration to improve supply chain resilience is available online.

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