You May Be Paying Less for Food Than You Used To

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It probably seems to most of us like prices go in only one direction: up. But guess what? Though anyone feeding a family on a budget may find it hard to believe, food prices have actually gone down in the past few years. Yup, for real.

According to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, the cost of food around the world has fallen to its lowest level since September 2010. In August 2014 the FAO's food price index declined for the fifth straight month, with every category of food — except meat — heading downward.

Cereal prices have crept down continuously since May, thanks to solid wheat and coarse grain supplies and crop prospects. Vegetable oil, sugar and dairy prices have also sunk. The dairy sector's dive was most dramatic; prices are nearly 20 percent lower than they were a year ago. Meat, though, proved the exception. Demand for poultry, beef and pork has exceeded supply, in part due to residual effects of drought; consequently, prices have risen 14 percent in the past year.

NPR credits the overall food price decline to fair weather and bountiful harvests in North America, Europe and China, but notes that, even though we may be shelling out less for groceries of late, if you take a broader view, you'll see that food prices aren't exactly rock bottom. In the 1990s, food prices were actually much lower than they are today. They hit a high in 2008 and didn't start to come down until 2010.

Here's hoping prices continue to flutter back down, like money from the sky.

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