Food price inflation lowest since 1992: USDA

U.S. food prices are forecast to rise at their lowest rate since 1992, the Agriculture Department said on Wednesday, showing the recent surge in agriculture prices for everything from hogs to wheat has not had an impact at the dinner table so far.

USDA revised its food price prediction to an increase of 0.5 to 1.5 percent in 2010 from its prior forecast in late July that called for a rise of between 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent.

The increase could be the lowest since food prices rose 1.2 percent in 1992.

"Although global economies have recovered somewhat from the 2008-09 recession, world economic activity remains below pre-recession levels, resulting in overall food price inflation in 2010 remaining below historical averages," USDA said in its monthly report.

Commodity prices have soared in recent months, stoking fears of a repeat of 2008 when rising food prices prompted hoarding, bread lines and food riots around the world.

Wheat reached a two-year high earlier this month after a record drought in Russia and crop problems in other countries. Livestock prices also have risen due to smaller herds and active buying of futures by funds, with pork prices hitting a record high for a third straight day on Wednesday.

Meat prices are forecast to rise 2 percent to 3 percent, with much of the increase attributed to pork, which is estimated to rise 3 percent to 4 percent. USDA said eggs are seen between unchanged and down 1 percent while dairy products are predicted to rise 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent.

[Source: Reuters, Washington, 25Aug10]

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