Food, Fuel, Airfares Hardest Hit by Inflation

Inflation last year hit its highest mark in four decades, according to consumer price index data.

The prices of certain items, largely specific food, fuel, and airfare, skyrocketed faster than others, CNBC reported.

Such items included:

  • Food at elementary and secondary schools – 305.2%
  • Eggs – 59.9%
  • Margarine – 43.8%
  • Fuel oil – 41.5%
  • Motor fuels (excluding gas) – 32.3%
  • Butter – 31.4%
  • Airfare – 28.5%
  • Lettuce – 24.9%
  • Flour and prepared flour mixes – 23.4%.

The federal government on Thursday announced that inflation eased to 6.5% in December compared with 12 months earlier. Still, high prices for goods remain a painful reality for many Americans, especially with such necessities as food, energy, and rents having soared over the past 18 months.

Factors including tangled supply chains, labor shortages, expanding consumer demand, and Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine joined broad inflationary pressures in contributing to the price rises.

Nothing suffered more from those factors than elementary and secondary school meals, which saw a gargantuan price increase of 305.2%.

CNBC reported that respective annual inflation rates for groceries and meals away from home hit 13.5% and 8% in August — their highest since 1971 and 1981, respectively.

“Food inflation has been nuts,” KPMG senior economist Tim Mahedy told CNBC. “We hadn’t seen [these levels] consistently really in decades.”

The price of eggs, which rose 59.9%, were affected deadliest outbreak of the highly contagious bird flu in U.S. history in 2022.

Tens of millions of egg-laying hens died from the avian influenza, leading to an egg shortage.

“It’s a supply disruption, ‘act of God’ type stuff,” Brian Moscogiuri, a global trade strategist at Eggs Unlimited, an egg supplier based in Irvine, California, previously told CNBC.

Margarine prices went up 43.8% due in part to global shocks in major markets for vegetable oil, a key ingredient in margarine.

Not only that, prices for commodities such as soybean, palm, sunflower, and rapeseed (canola) oil tend to move together, CNBC reported.

The No. 1 global producer and exporter of sunflower oil, Ukraine, was forced to fight a war against Russia. That situation squeezed supplies.

Other factors last year included palm oil-producing Indonesia imposing a temporary ban on exports, a severe drought in canola oil-producing Canada, and adverse weather in soybean producing Brazil fell due to weather conditions.

Airline fares increased 28.5% in 2022 as jet fuel prices surged amid pilot shortages and fewer routes being flown.

Nevertheless, consumers who had stayed home during the height of the pandemic returned to travel.

“People have shifted their spending away from goods to travel, restaurants and ball games,” Zandi said. “Airplanes have been packed.”

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