WASHINGTON (FNS) -- Retail food prices dropped 0.1% in January, after registering small increases each month throughout 1999, according to data released by the Labor Department.
Year-over-year, however, prices were up 1.5%. According to the Consumer Price Index, retail prices for food and beverages combined were unchanged in January. Year-over-year prices increased 1.6%.
Prices for food at home declined 0.2%, reflecting decreases in the indexes for fruits and vegetables, dairy products and cereal and bakery products.
Retail prices for fruits and vegetables, which increased 0.4% in December, declined 1.1% in January. Within the fruits and vegetables group, the indexes for fresh fruits and vegetables declined 1.1% and 2.8%, respectively. Prices for processed fruits and vegetables rose 1.9%, following declines in each of the preceding two months.
Dairy product prices declined for the second consecutive month, dropping 1.0% in January. Analysts pinned the decline on a 2.6% decrease in the price of milk. The index for cereal and bakery products dropped 0.5%, reflecting a decline in prices for breakfast cereal.
Prices for non-alcoholic beverages jumped 0.7%, largely due to increases in coffee and carbonated beverages.
Prices for meats, poultry, fish and eggs increased 0.3%. Increases in poultry and egg prices offset price declines in meats.
The other two components of the food and beverages index -- food away from home and alcoholic beverages -- each increased 0.2%.
Overall, U.S. consumer prices rose 0.2% in January, the same as in each of the prior three months. A 1% drop in apparel costs largely balanced out rising costs for gasoline, heating oil and tobacco. The core consumer price index, which excludes volatile food and energy, also rose 0.2% after a 0.1% December increase. Year-over-year, the CPI jumped 2.7%.