WASHINGTON — Food retail inflation is expected to persist at slightly lower levels through 2012, according to a forecast this week from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA projected food-cost increases at retail of about 3% to 4% in 2012, slightly down from a projected 3.5% to 4.5% this year. Prices at restaurants, expected to increase about 3% to 4% this year, are expected to increase less than that next year, about 2% to 3%. "While many inflationary pressures that drove prices ...

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