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Supply and demand shocks to food prices: FRED data à la carte

Rising meat prices, falling fish prices

In an earlier post, the FRED Blog discussed the price changes of a classic lunch option. Today, we discuss some dinner options, showing how the market prices for “surf and turf” have changed recently.

The Turf

The graph above uses U.S. consumer price data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to show the percent change in price from a year ago for three “turf” dining options: pork, beef, and chicken. (Btw, We use percent changes from a year ago to account for any seasonal patterns.)

Pork chop prices are clearly hogging a lot of space in the graph. In fact, the average price of pork chops has grown by double digits since April 2020. Sirloin steak prices have also moved up dramatically during the same time period. Chicken prices have also grown, but they are last in the pecking order here.

These spikes in meat prices are the result of supply shocks. The Economic Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) describes the decrease in meat output resulting from COVID-19 outbreaks among workers at several meat-packing facilities. The USDA maintains a website with FAQs about the pandemic and food supply chain issues.

The Surf

The second graph puts fish and shrimp on the scales, using primary commodity price data from the International Monetary Fund to show the percent change in their prices from a year ago. The global price of fish has decreased since March 2020, and the global price of shrimp has also started to decrease. These price drops are the result of demand shocks. This report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations describes how the decreased demand for fishery products in the hospitality sector, another disruption related to the COVID-19 pandemic, has played a role in lowering global prices.

The FRED Blog Team will be digging up data on vegetarian and vegan dining options to cultivate a similar post. Stay tuned.

How there graphs were created: For the “turf” graph, start on the FRED homepage and browse data by “Release.” Search for “Average Price Data” and click on “Food.” From the table, select the “Steak, Sirloin, USDA Choice, Boneless, Per Lb. (453.6 Gm) in U.S. City Average,” “All Pork Chops, Per Lb. (453.6 Gm) in U.S. City Average”, and “Chicken, Fresh, Whole, Per Lb. (453.6 Gm) in U.S. City Average” series and click “Add to Graph.” Next, change the units of the series to “Percent Change from Year Ago” and click on “Copy to all.” Next, edit the graph through the “Format” tab and select “Graph type: Bars.” Last, select colors to taste. For the “surf” graph, search for “Global price of Shrimp, Monthly, U.S. Dollars per Kilogram, Not Seasonally Adjusted.” Next, edit the graph by clicking on “Add a line,” searching for “Global price of Fish, Monthly, U.S. Dollars per Kilogram, Not Seasonally Adjusted,” and clicking on “Add.” Edit the units and graph type as described above.

Suggested by Diego Mendez-Carbajo.

View on FRED, series used in this post: APU0000703613, APU0000706111, APU0000FD3101, PSALMUSDM, PSHRIUSDM


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