USDA: Grocery prices don’t yet reflect COVID-19-related demand

Coronavirus related grocery store runs haven’t changed USDA’s monthly grocery price forecast, at least for now. USDA economist Gianna Short says grocery prices are likely to rise .5 percent to 1.5 percent this year, but price data covering the latest demand spike for certain items won’t be out until mid-April. Besides, she says price forecasts are an expected average over the whole year.

Short says high demand could raise grocery prices in the short term. “In the long term,” said Short, in an interview provided by the USDA, “if we have an economic downturn and if oil prices remain low, those are two things that typically have downward pressure on prices.”

Although there could be large ups and downs in grocery store prices this year, “until we get more hard data coming in,” said Short, “the forecast remains the same.”

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