A Snapshot of Varied Food Inflation Across U.S. Cities

September 24, 2019

A Snapshot of Varied Food Inflation Across U.S. Cities

Where are retail food prices experiencing the most inflation?

The USDA recently reported that between 2009-2018, retail food prices increased nationally by an average of 1.2% per year. However, that number varies from city to city. To get a more in depth look, the USDA has provided a look at select cities to see where inflation varies. St. Louis may be feeling the sting of higher prices a lot more than consumers in Dallas. 

Here are the 16 cities highlighted, from highest increase to lowest, in the research from USDA, Economic Research Service Using Consumer Price Index data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics:

  • St. Louis 1.7%
  • Boston 1.4%
  • New York City 1.4% 
  • Philadelphia 1.0%
  • Atlanta 1.1%
  • Miami-Fort Lauderdale 1.1%
  • Denver 1.0%
  • Houston 1.0%
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul 1.0%
  • San Diego 1.0%
  • San Francisco 1.0%
  • Seattle-Tacoma-Bellvue 1.0%
  • Chicago 0.9%
  • Los Angeles 0.9%
  • Dallas 0.6%
  • Detroit 0.8%

“Different rates of change in transportation costs and retail overhead expenses, such as labor and rent, can explain some of the variation among cities because cost increases are often passed along to the consumer in the form of higher grocery prices. Furthermore, differences in consumer food preferences among cities for specific foods may help explain variation in inflation rates,” the report said. The report notes that in cities where foods with lower rates of inflation, like chicken and pork, inflation may have not increased as much, as opposed to cities where beef and veal are more strongly preferred. Take a look at this chart for a further look into what major food categories have experienced the highest price changes.