Your Christmas roast may cost far more than it did last year, but the soaring price of beef is set to simmer down in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Retail beef and veal prices are projected to rise 5.5% to 6.5% this year, more than previously estimated, after a scorching summer drought in the Midwest seared through crops used for livestock feed.
Next year, the meat will cost consumers 3% to 4% more – but that's less than the USDA previously forecast. Steak in October cost 4.6% more than it did during the same month last year.
Across the board, food costs in the U.S. will have boomed as much as 3.5% this year, with as much as a 4% jump anticipated for next year. Last year, prices ballooned 3.7% after ticking up 0.8% in 2010.
Poultry prices – including for recently devoured Thanksgiving turkeys – will swell up to 6% this year and an additional 4% next year.
Remember the fears this fall of a coming bacon shortage, or the "aporkalypse"? Pork prices are down 2.1% from a year earlier as farmers unable to feed their livestock liquidated their herds, temporarily depressing prices. But ham prices are set to heave up as much as 4% next year.
Fresh fruits and vegetables, cheaper overall in 2012, will cost as much as 4% more in 2013.
So far this year, however, grocery store prices for food have been flat, according to an analysis by USDA economist Richard Volpe.
The drought's impact "typically takes several months to occur" and is mostly "expected to be realized in 2013," according to Volpe.