After a large rise from November to December of 2010, the February 2011 PracticalDad Price Index remained flat with an index level of 100.63 (November 2010 = 100). While the overall remains static, the increasing cost of commodity-related agricultural products within, such as wheat, cooking oil and sugar have finally started to rise along with that of coffee.
Within that figure, derived by pricing a basket of pre-selected items at three unrelated grocery stores, was a large decrease in the cost of one dozen eggs by 14% that offset price rises in such commodity items as sugar (2.9%), flour (3.6%), canola oil (4.5%) and coffee (4.3%). Sugar, flour and canola oil had their first price moves since the PracticalDad Index began while coffee’s move followed a 9.8% jump from November to December of 2010. What’s notable about the rise in the cost of coffee is how it’s masked by stealth inflation; throughout the four month period, only one of the three stores actually raised the nominal price on only one occasion. Two of the three stores however, decreased the container size from the original 13 ounces to 11 and 11.3 ounces respectively so that the effective cost of coffee on the original 13 ounce basis rose.
I’d like to touch upon a housekeeping note as to the index figures for the months of December and January. When I’m pricing different items, I pay particular attention to the item, size/quantity and cost so I didn’t realize during those months that a 64 ounce carton of orange juice also varied by whether it was derived from concentrate – the cheaper choice – or not. In these two months, the juice was subsequently priced with both varieties and I’ve corrected the data to reflect the original juice non-concentrate variety, which is higher, but that originally used in the November pricing. The effect is to skew the data higher than the original index numbers, but the direction remains the same: a sharp one month rise followed by two months at a lower level. I’ve made note of this and re-evaluated other items as well to assure that this is simply a one-item correction.
What else is notable in the February pricing?
- Eggs and butter both registered declines of 14% and 4.7% respectively to more than offset the increases in flour/sugar/cooking oil/coffee and other items.
- There are additional examples of stealth inflation as one chain has decreased the number of diapers per box from 104 to 96 and another began offering canned beans in a 15 ounce can, down from 15.5 ounces. In each case, the nominal price of the items didn’t change and I’ve recalculated them on the original size to account for the adjusted prices.
- As the actual basic food staples – flour, sugar, canola oil – show their first increase and the business/financial news discusses the rising cost of these raw items, I’m curious as to how long before the price for the finished goods also starts to rise. These would include products such as bread, hot dog rolls, spaghetti and children’s cereal.
For the record, listed below are the monthly PD Index figures, both original and revised.
|Month||Avg Cost ($)||Original Index||Revised Index|
Finally, here’s the actual data with the December data corrected as discussed above.
|Item||Size||Category||12/10 Avg Price||1/11 Avg Price||2/11 Avg Price|
|hot dog rolls||8||bread||1.09||1.09||1.12|
|loaf, wht bread, store brand (oz)||20||bread||1.12||1.12||1.12|
|spaghetti, store brand (oz)||16||bread||1.11||1.18||1.18|
|child cereal, sugar flakes, store brand (oz)||17||cereal||2.74||2.90||2.90|
|cereal, rice chex, store brand (oz)||12.8||cereal||2.66||2.74||2.74|
|oatmeal, one minute, store brand (oz)||42||cereal||3.12||3.18||3.18|
|milk, 2% (gallon)||1||dairy||3.54||3.46||3.51|
|butter, unsalted (lb)||1||dairy||3.49||3.56||3.39|
|vanilla ice cream, store brand (qt)||1||dairy||1.88||2.04||1.94|
|grated parmesan, store brand (oz)||8||dairy||2.99||2.99||3.08|
|American Cheese / Deli (lb)||1||dairy||5.52||5.52||5.86|
|peanut butter, store brand (oz)||28||grocery||2.96||2.96||2.96|
|grape jelly, store brand (oz)||32||grocery||1.82||1.89||1.82|
|kidney beans, dark, store brand (oz)||15.5||grocery||.86||.86||.87|
|can green peas, store brand (oz)||15||grocery||.89||.92||.92|
|can diced tomatoes, store brand (oz)||14.5||grocery||.94||.94||.94|
|can cut green beans, store brand (oz)||14.5||grocery||.89||.92||.92|
|can corn, store brand (oz)||15.25||grocery||.89||.92||.92|
|spaghetti sauce, store brand (oz)||26||grocery||1.13||1.13||1.13|
|cola, store brand (L)||2||grocery||.89||.89||.89|
|caffeinated coffee, store brand (oz)||13||grocery||3.25||3.25||3.38|
|diapers, store brand, size 3 (ct)||104||baby||17.35||17.82||17.82|
|formula, Enfamil Premium, Lipil (oz)||23.4||baby||24.02||22.94||22.94|
|child ibuprofen, OS, store brand (oz)||4||hlth/bty||4.82||4.96||4.96|
|adult ibuprofen, 200 mg caplet, store brand (ct)||100||hlth/bty||6.72||6.92||6.72|
|shampoo, Suave (oz)||22.5||hlth/bty||1.74||1.71||1.71|
|pads, long, Poise (ct)||42||hlth/bty||16.09||16.09||16.09|
|bath soap, Dial brand (ct)||8||hlth/bty||5.39||5.39||5.39|
|aluminum foil, store brand (sq ft)||75||hshld||2.97||2.97||2.97|
|kitchen trash bags, store brand (ct)||26||hshld||4.11||4.41||4.11|
|paper towels, 2 ply, store brand (ct)||8||hshld||7.26||7.26||7.26|
|hot dogs, meat franks, store brand (oz)||16||meat||2.46||2.46||2.46|
|ground beef, 80% lean, (lb)||1||meat||3.02||3.32||3.32|
|eggs, large (dozen)||1||meat||2.01||1.99||1.71|
|lunchmeat, deli ham (lb)||1||meat||5.12||4.59||4.06|
|chicken, roaster (lb)||1||meat||1.52||1.56||1.62|
|fish sticks, Gortons (ct)||44||meat||7.96||7.86||7.86|
|tuna, water packed, store brand (oz)||5||meat||1.32||.96||.78|
|apples, Red Delicious, bag (lb)||3||produce||3.59||3.42||3.76|
|carrots, bag (lb)||2||produce||2.02||2.09||2.02|
|OJ, non-concentrate, store brand (oz)||64||produce||2.66||2.56||2.66|
|potatoes, russet (lb)||5||produce||3.99||3.66||3.82|
|sugar, store brand (lb)||5||staple||3.12||3.12||3.21|
|flour, store brand (lb)||5||staple||1.96||1.92||1.99|
|canola oil, store brand (oz)||48||staple||3.12||3.12||3.26|
|rice, white, long-grain (lb)||2||staple||1.59||1.59||1.67|