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Seasonality in food prices: A bountiful harvest of FRED data

Summary:
[embedded content] The FRED Blog has discussed shocks to meat and fish prices related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Shocks are unexpected changes in the supply or demand of a product or commodity that results in a sudden change in its price. Today, we discuss how the timing of harvesting seasons results in predictable changes in the prices of fresh fruit. The FRED graph above uses data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index, Average Price Data release: It shows the quarterly dollar prices of a pound of Thompson seedless grapes (green circles) and a dry pint of strawberries (red circles). When grapes are harvested at the end of the summer (the third quarter of the year) and strawberries are picked in the spring (the second quarter of the year), the abundant supply

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The FRED Blog has discussed shocks to meat and fish prices related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Shocks are unexpected changes in the supply or demand of a product or commodity that results in a sudden change in its price. Today, we discuss how the timing of harvesting seasons results in predictable changes in the prices of fresh fruit.

The FRED graph above uses data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index, Average Price Data release: It shows the quarterly dollar prices of a pound of Thompson seedless grapes (green circles) and a dry pint of strawberries (red circles).

When grapes are harvested at the end of the summer (the third quarter of the year) and strawberries are picked in the spring (the second quarter of the year), the abundant supply pushes down their prices to their annual lows. Notice how strawberry prices remain low—or even fall farther—during the third quarter of the year. This report from the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture reviews these seasonal patterns and highlights the extended growing season for strawberries in the U.S.

For contrast, we also plot the quarterly dollar price of a pound of bananas. Because this fruit grows only in the tropics and tropical weather has little seasonal variation, bananas are picked year-round. There are almost no periodic and/or regular changes to banana prices.

To learn more about fruit price volatility, read this report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Like FRED, it is rich in nutrients.

How there graphs were created: For the first graph, search for “Grapes, Thompson Seedless, Per Lb. (453.6 Gm) in U.S. City Average.” Next, use the “Edit Graph” menu’s “Add Line” tab to add the series “Strawberries, Dry Pint, Per 12 Oz. (340.2 Gm) in U.S. City Average.” Next, edit Line 1: Click on “Modify frequency” and select “Quarterly.” Click on “Copy to All” to apply the same change to Line 2. Next, use the “Format” tabe and select “Mark type: Circle.” Last, select colors to taste. For the second graph, search for “Bananas, Per Lb. (453.6 Gm) in U.S. City Average” and repeat the above steps for unit frequency and graph format.

Suggested by Diego Mendez-Carbajo.

About FRED Blog
FRED Blog
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is the center of the Eighth District of the Federal Reserve System. This District includes Arkansas, eastern Missouri, southern Illinois and Indiana, western Kentucky and Tennessee, and northern Mississippi.

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