Savings can help offset growing labor and health care costs

Recent headlines blared that food prices rose 31.5% from 2005 to 2015.

But what matters more are current price moves and what’s ahead.

Food prices appear to have peaked. The Consumer Price Index for food has fallen each month since November 2015.

The big headline for 2016 could well be how beef prices will drop significantly – from 10% to 17%, according to many estimates. This will happen because cattle are heavier, and herds have increased by 4%.

Moreover, boneless chicken breast meat is expected to drop 3%-4%. Ditto for pork. Five of the six major grocery store food group indexes fell between 3.0% and 3.5%; the only increase during the past 12 months has been a 2.7% rise in fruits and vegetables.

This is good news for restaurants, fast feeders and grocerants, which could use these savings to help offset higher minimum wages and health care costs.