Menu prices on pace for strongest growth since 2008

Menu prices continue to rise at a healthy pace, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer prices for food away from home increased 3.7% in the 12 months ending March 2021. Through the first quarter of 2021, menu prices are on pace to register their strongest annual increase since 2008.

Prices for limited-service meals and snacks increased 6.5% between March 2020 to March 2021, which was more than double the 3.2% gain in fullservice restaurant menu prices.

The West region saw menu prices rise 4.8% between March 2020 to March 2021, which was slightly above the 4.5% increase in the Northeast. Menu prices registered somewhat smaller gains in the Midwest (3.1%) and South (2.8%) regions.

Growth in overall consumer prices accelerated to 2.6% in the 12 months ending March 2021, due largely to the impact of dampened comparisons during the shutdowns in March 2020. Inflation will likely remain elevated in the coming months, while these base effects remain in place.

Grocery store prices were up 3.3% during the 12 months ending March 2021, which was the smallest 12-month gain since the start of the pandemic. After hitting a recent peak of 5.6% in June 2020, the 12-month growth in grocery store prices has steadily moderated.

Track more economic indicators and read more analysis and commentary from the Association's chief economist Bruce Grindy.