The Food Foundation (TFF) is an independent charity focused on challenges in the UK food system. They maintain an online food price tracker that tracks changes in food price indices using CPI data from the UK’s Office for National Statistics and they chart data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. We explain the FAO Food Price Index here. In the U.S., food price inflation is tracked within the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index (CPI). Food accounts for about 14% of the U.S. CPI index and is tracked in both “food at home” and “food away from home” categories.
Although primarily dedicated to UK food policy, TFF’s coverage addresses the global food industry. The CPI retail food price tracker ( which tracks a basket of 167 food items over time) indicates there’s been a sharp rise in retail prices across categories from summer 2021 into the first months of 2022. This trend mirrors data provided by other organizations including FAO and the USDA’s Economic Research Department (ERS). The charts tell the story that consumer’s are feeling the pinch at the grocery store – and when they go out to eat from the rapid rise in food costs.
What drives food inflation?
Fuel shortages, labor shortages and the coronavirus pandemic have all contributed to a rise in food prices across the globe. Other factors which are causing “pain in the pocketbook” include droughts in regions that supply the world with commodities such as wheat, oats and corn. Similarly, frost damage in Brazil has impacted worldwide sugar prices.
Increases in energy costs have an outsized affect upon the entire supply chain, boosting the cost to grow, package and ship food product. Fuel is needed in the production process and for trucks that deliver most of the food to retail and foodservice outlets. High energy costs also mean higher prices throughout the entire food system affecting everything from animal feed to fertilizer to packaging – of course all of the increases get passed down the production and supply chain to the consumer.
Some helpful resources: