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Restaurant menu price inflation is not slowing

Inflation at restaurants continued to outpace inflation at supermarkets and other retail food outlets, according to new federal data.
restaurant menu price inflation
Restaurant menu price inflation has outpaced grocery inflation in recent months. / Photograph: Shutterstock.

Restaurant menu prices do not appear to be slowing down, even as they do at grocery stores.

Prices for food away from home, which includes restaurants, vending machines, schools and other foodservice facilities, increased 8.4% year over year in February, according to new data released from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Tuesday.

Prices increased 0.6% from January, the same rate of growth as the previous month.

Restaurant menu price increases have been outpacing inflation at supermarkets and other grocery stores for the past several months.

Food-at-home prices rose 0.3% month-over-month in February, a slowdown from January. For the year, prices are up 10.2%, which is still 1.8% higher than food-away-from-home inflation. Yet that is the lowest gap in price inflation between the two industries in a year.

At full-service restaurants, prices rose 0.6% month-over-month, an acceleration from the 0.5% increase in January. For the year, prices at table-service locations are up 8%.

They’re up 7.2% at limited-service restaurants. Those prices have increased 0.7% each of the past two months.

Prices have soared at elementary and secondary schools, due largely to the end of free school lunch programs that became common during the pandemic.

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