In 100 Years, Potato and Bread Prices Have Skyrocketed; Eggs not so Bad

Saturday, March 09, 2013
Unhappy potato (photo:

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the creation of the Department of Labor, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a fact sheet comparing food prices in 1913 with those in 2013. During the past century, the rate of inflation has risen 2,226.1%, meaning that an item that cost $1 in 2013 now costs $22.26. But some food items have increased in price far more than others.


Even though flour has only gone from about 3 cents a pound to 52 cents a pound (1,588%), bread has gone from less than 6 cents a loaf to $1.42 a loaf (2,539%). Potatoes, only 1.6 cents a pound a century ago, now average 63 cents a pound (3,919%).


At the other end of the scale, a dozen eggs increased from 37 cents in 1913 to $1.93 in 2013, only 518%. Butter has gone from 41 cents a pound to $3.50 a pound, an increase of 856%. Back in 1913, butter and eggs were relatively expensive items, but now, unlike back then, they cost less than coffee, cheese, sirloin steak and even bacon.

-David Wallechinsky


To Learn More:

Average Food Prices: a Snapshot of how much has Changed over a Century (by Jonathan Church and Ken Stewart, Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Benji 6 years ago
When the calculate today's cost for butter do they factor margarine in with butter, or strictly butter only? If so, that would explain why butter has, relatively speaking, gone down in price. In general that is something to consider when looking at historical prices for food. What was the quality like then compared to now? How much fresher was the food then? When you consider that much more food was sold by (less efficient) Mom-and-Pop grocers, and still was cheaper back then, it really puts into perspective the rise of food costs.

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