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Retail Food Prices Vary Significantly Across U.S. Region

ERS estimates of retail food price variation show that average prices for 11 grocery store items were 8 percent higher than the national average in the Northeast and 6 percent lower in the Midwest for the years 2004-07. Variations in regional food prices stem from differences in production and transportation costs and the level of retail competition in each region. The differences are noteworthy given that national food price inflation over the period averaged 2.9 percent, implying that differences across locations at a given point in time are larger than the change in prices over time.

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