Special Report

The 10 Fastest Rising Food Prices

10. Grapefruit
> 4-yr. change: +22%
> 1-yr. change: +6%
> Current price: $1.02 per lb.

Grapefruit farmers are currently battling citrus greening, a disease that has devastated Florida’s citrus crops. The disease is spread by an insect called the Asian citrus psyllid. It causes citrus trees to slowly die as fruit drops from the tree prematurely and unripened. According to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, citrus greening — also called Huanglongbing — “undoubtedly poses the most serious threat that the Florida citrus industry has ever faced.” Likely as a result, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service predicts a massive national production decline. The U.S. Grapefruit crop is forecast to fall to 26.1 million boxes in the 2013-2014 year, down from 30.4 million boxes in the 2010-2011 year. This is largely driven by declines in Florida production.

9. Chicken
> 4-yr. change: +22%
> 1-yr. change: +5%
> Current price: $1.54 per lb.

As beef and pork prices continue to rise, consumers are also increasingly switching to chicken, which cost an average of just $1.54 per pound as of March, according to the BLS. By comparison, a pound of ham costs $2.93. Unlike feed cattle and live hogs, however, broilers — chickens that are bred for meat production — do not trade on an exchange. This may be surprising given that Americans actually consume more chicken than beef or pork. Additionally, recent long-term USDA forecasts indicate Americans will consume even more chicken in the future, while curbing their intake of beef and pork. Fast food companies, too, have increasingly featured chicken in their new products. These include Domino’s Specialty Chicken — a pizza layered on top of chicken that serves as the base — and KFC’s Double Down, a bacon and cheese sandwich with two pieces of fried chicken in lieu of bread.

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8. Turkey
> 4-yr. change: +24%
> 1-yr. change: +9%
> Current price: $1.73 per lb.

The vast majority of industrial turkey feed is corn and soy based. With steady increases in soybean and corn prices in recent years due to drought, it is no surprise that rising production costs have increased consumer prices for the poultry industry. Turkey breeding is down slightly, with the growth rate of eggs in incubation down 1 percentage point and hatchery flock expansion also slowing, thus decreasing the turkey population. However, turkey production is expected to increase, according to the USDA, due to stronger projected turkey prices and lower feed costs.

7. Wine
> 4-yr. change: +25%
> 1-yr. change: +8%
> Current price: $10.75 per liter

Consumer prices for wine have risen 25% between January 2010 and this March. However, it is unclear whether the spike was due to supply and demand forces. Consumer wine prices tracked by the BLS are highly volatile and can fluctuate by more than $2 per liter from one month to the next — enough to make comparisons over time difficult. One potential problem for consumers, and for producers, may be drought in California, because about 90% of the nation’s wine production comes from the state. Potentially good for future prices, USDA staff estimates that wine production in Europe rose 18.7% last year. European Union countries account for roughly 60% of global wine production, by volume.

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6. Margarine
> 4-yr. change: +30%
> 1-yr. change: -1%
> Current price: $2.11 per lb.

Margarine was once considered a healthier alternative to butter. However, this year butter consumption reached a 40-year high, while margarine sales have plummeted. Like many processed foods, margarine contains trans fats, which research has linked to heart disease. Since the FDA’s requirement to disclose trans fats content on food labels came into effect in 2006, Americans have shied away from Margarine. Despite falling demand, margarine prices are up 30% since 2010. Because margarine is made of vegetable oils, higher prices for soybeans and corn can increase the price consumers pay for margarine at the register. The prices of both soy and corn have soared in recent years. This may partly explain the price increase of margarine.

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