Fuel costs, natural disasters and a weak US dollar have driven grocery costs up by 5.4 percent from July 2010 to July 2011, according to Richard Volpe, an economist with the US Department of Agriculture.
"All major US field crops, corn, wheat, soybeans affect almost all food prices," Volpe says. "We are very dependent on the Midwest."
He said that region suffered a wet spring that slowed planting, and too much dry heat in July that forced crop yields down. An extreme drought in Texas has sent waves of high prices through the food markets. The weak dollar is making it cheaper for foreign customers to buy US exports, and that increases demand and puts stress on domestic supplies.
While Volpe said some commodity prices are falling, it takes several months for that to affect retail prices. He said we will see those prices drop late in 2012, barring other problems.