The USDA has released their projections for food price inflation in 2011/2012, showing troubling forecasts that may send you to the grocery store today, before paying higher prices tomorrow. The report shows that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all food increased 0.8 percent between 2009 and 2010, and is forecasted to increase 3.5 to 4.5 percent in 2011.

Items that are expected to inflate the most include beef, cooking oils, and seafood. Processed vegetables and beverages were projected to to see smaller changes in the CPI. The Wall Street Journal notes that “the midpoint of the new USDA outlook signals the sharpest acceleration in the food inflation rate from one year to the next since 1978, and makes the increase itself the biggest since 2008, when prices rose 5.5%.” While things may seem bleak for the rest of the year, the USDA projects that prices will rise only 2.5 percent next year.

The report also found that food-at-home prices increased 0.3 percent, the lowest annual increase since 1967, while food-away-from-home prices rose 1.3 percent in 2010. Total food expenditures for all food consumed in the U.S. were $1,240.4 billion in 2010, a 3.4-percent increase from $1,199.8 billion in 2009. Spending on food away from home accounted for 47.9 percent of total food expenditures in 2010; spending for food at home accounted for 52.1 percent.

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