C.P.I. for baked foods, cereals gains 3.2% in ‘09

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The Consumer Price Index for baked foods and cereal products posted its 14th consecutive year of higher prices in 2009, advancing 3.2%. Although the third sharpest gain in the past 10 years, the gain was down from increases of 10.2% in 2008 and 4.4% in 2007.

For the third year in a row, the C.P.I. for every category of grain-based foods increased in the 12-month period that ended in December. In most cases, the gain exceeded 2%, and in many instances was more than 3%.

A year after posting a historically high increase of 6%, the index for all food at home had the least impressive gain of the categories tracked, rising only 0.5% in 2009. It marked only the second time in the past 40 years that the year-over-year gain was less than 1% (it was 0.7% in 1992).

Within the Cereal and Bakery Products category, the largest index increases in 2009 were in the frozen bakery products sub-category, up 5.1%, and in the rice, pasta and cornmeal sub-category, up 4.8%. The rice, pasta and cornmeal category also was one of the biggest movers in 2007 and 2008.

The price index for Bakery Products increased 2.9% in 2009, which compared with a gain of 9.3% in 2008. Two segments within this category — bread and fresh biscuits, rolls and muffins — were introduced in 1998 with a base of December 1997. All other products are based on a 1982-84 average.

In the bread segment, white bread increased 1.1%, compared with advances of 12.3% in 2008, 7.7% in 2007, 2.5% in 2006, 3.8% in 2005, 2.1% in 2004, 2.7% in 2003, 2.5% in 2002, 4.4% in 2001 and 3.3% in 2000. Bread other than white gained 1.3% from a year ago, compared with 13.5% in 2008, 5.9% in 2007, 4.1% in 2006, 4.8% in 2005, 1.6% in 2004, 2.2% in 2003, 2.8% in 2002, 5% in 2001 and 3.5% in 2000. It was the lowest year-over-year gain ever for bread other than white and was the lowest gain for white bread since the index was flat in 1977.

The index for cakes, cupcakes and cookies rose 4.3% in 2009, compared with gains of 7.6% in 2008, 3.4% in 2007, 2.1% in 2006, 1.6% in 2005, 1.8% in 2004, 3% in 2003, 2.4% in 2002, 2.1% in 2001 and 1.5% in 2000.

The C.P.I. for other bakery products rose 3.8% in 2009. This compared with gains of 6.8% in 2008, 2.3% in 2007, 1.9% in 2006, 2.1% in 2004, 2.1% in 2003, 1.9% in 2002, 3.8% in 2001 and 2.5% in 2000. In 2005, the category fell 0.2%. In the other bakery products segment, fresh sweet rolls, coffee cakes and donuts rose 2.5%; crackers and other cracker products rose 4.4%; and frozen and refrigerated bakery products, pies, tarts and turnovers advanced 5.1%.

The C.P.I. for Cereals and Cereal Products rose 3.3% in 2009, which compared with a gain of 9.2% in 2008, 3.8% in 2007 and 0.3% in 2006 and 2005. Flour and prepared mixes rose 2.6% after a 15.2% gain the previous year; breakfast cereal posted a gain of 2.6%, which followed a gain of 3.3% in 2008; and rice, pasta and corn meal advanced 4.8%.

On a monthly basis, the Consumer Price Index for baked foods and cereal products showed strength, finishing up 0.2% in December. The December index for Cereals and Bakery Products before seasonal adjustment was 252.6% of the 1982-84 average. For all food at home, the December index was 213.4, up 0.3% from November.

The C.P.I. for Cereals and Cereal Products in December was 219.5, down 0.3% from November. The index for products within this category included: flour and prepared mixes, 220.2, up 0.9% from November; breakfast cereal, 218.2, down 0.5% from the previous month; and rice, pasta and corn meal, 226.2, down 0.4% from November.

The price index for Bakery Products in December was 267.8, up 0.4% from November.

The December index for bread was 160, down 0.4% from November. Under this heading, the C.P.I. for white bread was 294.2, up 1.2% from November. For bread other than white, the index was 301.7, down 2.7% from November.

The price index for fresh biscuits, rolls and muffins in December was 154.7, up 0.6% from November. The December index for cakes, cupcakes and cookies was 255.3, up 0.3% from November. Under this segment, other price indexes included fresh cakes and cupcakes, 258.7, down 0.1% from November; and cookies, 251.3, up 0.7% from the previous month.

The C.P.I. for other bakery products in December was 242.5, up 1.2% from November. Under this heading, other price indexes in December included: fresh sweet rolls, coffee cakes and donuts, 251.5, up 0.4% from November; crackers and cracker products, 280.8, up 1.9% from November; and frozen and refrigerated bakery products, pies, tarts and turnovers, 254.3, up 0.7%.

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