In the past 12 months, the Consumer Price Index has shown an 8.5% price jump in all retail items. For food specifically, that number is higher at 8.8%. During the April 27, 2022, Hoard’s Dairyman DairyLivestream, Cornell University’s Andy Novakovic detailed a few of the specific U.S. Department of Labor statistics that apply to dairy.

“The data that I'm looking at is not this month compared to a month a year ago, but more of a longer term comparison,” Novakovic said in setting the stage. “The U.S. Department of Labor collects this data, and they use 1982 to 1984 as their base period. That's 40 years ago, it sounds like a long time, but it doesn't matter so much. It's just a comparison point. That's when the index equals 100.”

All retail prices are 2.9 times that base period, but several grocery items eclipse that number. Dairy, on the other hand, is up just 2.4 times from that base period. On an item-by-item level, cheese is up 2.7 times and milk is up 1.6 times. That means, when compared to other food options, dairy provides great value for the consumer’s dollar.

“There are several items — some of them big category items — that are above the 2.9 growth rate. Retail fruits and vegetables, food away from home, grain cereals and bakery products, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs are all above that level of growth,” Novakovic detailed. “Dairy is below, not below by a lot, but it's below that level.”

The chart below shows the percentage gains in the past 12 months. As the chart data show and Novakovic’s comments explain, dairy has seen a steady incline in the past year.

While dairy is up, other grocery and eating options are up at least the same amount or more. Novakovic thought that dairy might come up more in the next six months, but the other categories appear to have additional sector issues on top of the inflationary ones.

“Although the increase in milk is eye catching, it still represents a very good buy compared to lots of other things we see in the grocery store,” Novakovic concluded.

To watch the recording of the April 27 DairyLivestream, go to the link above. The program recording is now also available as an audio-only podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and downloadable from the Hoard’s Dairyman website.

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May 5, 2022
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