CHICAGO — Retail food and beverage price increases are finally beginning to slow, according to data from IRI.

While prices in September were 13% higher than the same time last year, they did not grow significantly from July to September. The market research firm said the flattening price curve is a noticeable deviation from the consistent increases between January 2022 and July.

Year-over-year prices in perimeter categories like produce and deli have steadily declined since February, though September 2022 prices were still up 9.6% compared with September 2021.

Prices for center-store categories continue to rise compared with the same period last year, however, with frozen meal and dairy costs up 18.4% and 19.6%, respectively.

“September data revealed some welcome news for consumers: price inflation is slowing down for the first time this year in the perimeter categories that account for nearly $200 billion in annual retail sales,” said Krishnakumar Davey, president of thought leadership for IRI. “However, overall grocery bills are still significantly higher than this time last year, causing shoppers to shift their purchase habits.”

Consumers are bargain hunting, shifting to larger pack sizes and steering clear of highly inflated categories to avoid large grocery bills. The change in behaviors resulted in decreased sales volumes for inflated categories like canned/bottled fruit, frozen dinners and shelf-stable dinners, each of which declined more than 10% in September.

Quick trips to the store also have become more popular, up 5.7% in the last 12 weeks compared with the same time last year, indicating that consumers are choosing to cherry pick products across different stores to get the best deals.