Here's How Much The USDA Expects Food Prices To Rise In 2022

As the first quarter of 2022 comes to a close, people living in the U.S. continue to face increasing inflation that isn't likely to slow in the immediate future. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the cost of food increased by 7.9% between February 2021 and February 2022. And while that was the highest rate of inflation for food in more than 40 years, according to Trading Economics, prices are only going to continue going up for both groceries and dining out.

The USDA released its March 2022 outlook report and found that the cost of food-at-home (meaning anything bought at the grocery store) is likely to increase by another 3-4%. while food-away-from-home (or from a resturant) is expected to rise by 5.5-6.5%. With such increases, the price for food purchased at restaurants is expected to climb to new heights, beating last year's inflation rates. Looking farther into the future, Trading Economics predicts the rise of food inflation to slow to around 2% in 2023 and 2024. However, they predict the inflation rate for the first quarter of 2022 will likely end at around 8.9%.

With such high inflation predictions, it could be helpful to know which categories of foods will be most affected. Fortunately, the USDA shared its projections across both grocery categories and prices of food sourced by restaurants in case you'd like to plan to cut back in the coming months.

The USDA's inflation predictions

According to the March 2022 report, poultry, fats, and oils are the three grocery items set to see the greatest increase, ranging between 6-7%. Fresh fruit prices are expected rise by 5-6%, while dairy products and processed fruits and vegetables could increase by 4-5.5%. The cost of sugar, sweets, cereal, baked goods, nonalcoholic drinks, and other foods may rise by 3-4.5%. Eggs should see an increase between 2.5-3.5%, and fresh vegetables can expect to see the smallest increase, between 1-2%. 

The prices of wholesale foods are also set to increase, which will likely be reflected on resturant menus. Wholesale beef is expected to rise by 4-7%, while poultry will probably jump by 9-12% this year. Dairy products could increase by up to 10%; wholesale fruit prices are projected to rise by 12.5-15.5%; vegetables could increase by 6-9%; and flour is expected to increase by 12-15%. Finally, fats and oils should jump by a whopping 27-30%.

As the cost of food is expected to significantly rise through the end of 2022, with wholesale prices seeing the largest increases, those on a budget may want to limit dining out for the foreseeable future.