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US food and soft drinks prices extended an easing trend in September from last year’s historical highs, with grocery shoppers and diners getting further relief.

Nevertheless, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ all-items headline measure of inflation held at 3.7% in the 12 months through September, leaving markets guessing whether the Federal Reserve will pause in its tightening cycle that has left people paying more for mortgages.

As is the case in the UK, the US central bank has a target of getting annual inflation down to 2%, although the month-on-month rise in prices slowed to 0.4% from 0.6%. The UK, which saw annualised prices ease to 6.7% in August from 6.8% in July, reports its September numbers on 18 October.

In the US, however, is that overall food and soft drinks price increases (at-home and away-from-home combined) are now on par with the headline measure, rising 3.7% in September annualised, cooling from 4.3% in August. Month-on-month prices were steady at 0.2%

In the UK, the price of food and non-alcoholic drinks rose 13.6% in August, down from 14.9% in July.

Grocery inflation in the US, or the food-at-home consumer price index, including soft drinks, climbed 2.4% in the 12 months through September, the Bureau reported yesterday (12 October). That was down from 3% in August, and 3.6% and 4.5% over the previous respective two months.

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By GlobalData

Price increases in bread and cereals exceeded the September rate, rising 4.8%, while the cost of non-alcoholic beverages was up 4%.

Meat, poultry, fish and eggs saw a slight increase of 0.2%, while the cost of dairy products dropped 0.2%. Fruit and vegetables were 0.8% higher on an annualised basis.

It was a mixed bag across the food and soft drinks in-home consumption category in terms of the monthly comparison. The index was up 0.1%, easing from 0.2% in August.

The index for meat, poultry, fish and eggs rose 0.5%, led by a 1.6% increase in pork prices. Dairy products rose 0.1%, while bakery and cereals dropped 0.4%, the first decline in that category since June 2021, the Bureau said. Fruit and vegetables saw no increase.

For people eating out, prices rose 6% in the 12 months through September, retreating slightly from a 6.5% rise in August but continuing an easing trend from 7.1% in July and 7.7% in June. Month-on-month away-from-home prices edged up to 0.4% from 0.3%.