FIC Member Steven Moeller featured in the Columbus Dispatch
Price inflation for meat, fish, milk, eggs, fruits and vegetables is expected to more than double this year from a nearly four-decade low in 2013.
“We’re looking at 2.5 to 3.5 percent increases over what we saw in 2013,” Ricky Volpe, an economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said during his agency’s Agricultural Outlook Forum in late February.
Short-term supply problems caused by weather are behind some of the recent price hikes, particularly those for fruits and vegetables. But meat shortages — and the resulting higher prices — can last for years.
“Our wholesale prices go up every single day,” said Scott Bowman, co-owner of Weiland’s Market in Clintonville. “We can ignore the first few cents, but once you’re talking dimes and quarters or more, then you have no choice but to raise your retail prices.”
Although prices for grain fed to animals have fallen since the historic 2012 drought, a highly contagious virus has killed millions of piglets nationwide since April, said Steve Moeller, an Ohio State University Extension swine specialist. That’s showing up in pork prices at the grocery.
Although no good estimate exists, the virus likely has caused “something along the lines of 5 million pigs lost in the United States,” Moeller said. “That’s the equivalent of 5 percent of our annual production. What we’re seeing now is fewer pigs on the market.”
Smaller supply usually means higher prices. That’s why three pork products topped the price-increase list in January.
The USDA expects retail pork prices to rise between 2 percent and 3 percent this year, but the agency sees wholesale prices rising 5.5 percent to 6.5 percent. That means processors and retailers are not expected to pass along every producer price increase to consumers.