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The Food Institute reports that "on the heels of a scant 1.3 percent increase in 2002, retail food-at-home prices rose 2.1 percent last year, slightly exceeding projections of a 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent increase.

"By far, the major driving force behind that gain was the run-up in beef prices, which ended the year averaging 9.0 percent more than a year earlier. During December, prices were up an astounding 23.5 percent from a year earlier according to Consumer Price Index data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"For 2004, beef prices are projected to rise another 3.0 percent to 4.0 percent for the year, although the finding of a case of mad cow disease in the U.S. is expected to result in somewhat lower prices through the first quarter and possibly half of this year."

While beef prices were up nine percent last year, they weren't the fastest growing prices in the food category, according to the Food Institute. Egg prices, in fact, were up almost 14 percent.
KC's View:
Meaning we finally have an answer to the age-old question about which came first, the cow or the egg…