Although the pace has slowed from that of last year, retail beef prices have continued to rise faster than food prices overall, according to the latest Consumer Price Index for Food. The report shows beef prices increased by 0.6 percent between April and May, and 5.4 percent between May 2011 and May 2012. For this year, USDA projects an annual increase of 4 to 5 percent over 2011.

The projected annual increase is one of the highest among food categories listed in the report, but is well below the 10.2 percent annual increase in beef prices last year. Fish and seafood is the only category matching beef’s rate of inflation, with an increase of 4 to 5 percent projected for this year.

Overall, food prices have increased 2.8 percent over the past 12 months (May 2011 to May 2012), and USDA projects an annual increase of 2.5 to 3.5 percent for 2012, somewhat lower than last-year’s 3.7 percent increase.

The index for food away from home, which accounts for about 40 percent of consumer food expenditures, increased 2.9 percent over the past 12 months and USDA projects an annual increase of 2 to 3 percent for 2012, slightly higher than last-year’s increase of 1.9 percent.

The index for food consumed at home, which accounts for about 60 percent of the total, rose 2.7 percent over the past 12 months, and USDA expects the trend to continue, projecting a 2.5 to 3.5 percent increase for 2012. That rate is well below last-year’s increase of 4.8 percent over 2010 prices. The steepest increase in recent years occurred in 2008, when prices jumped 6.4 percent over those from 2007.

Among competing meats, poultry prices increased by 3.9 percent over the past 12 months and the agency projects an annual increase in poultry prices of 3 to 4 percent for 2012. In contrast, pork prices have fallen slightly, about 0.3 percent over the past 12 months, and USDA revised their 2012 projection downward, indicating a 2 to 3 percent increase in pork prices for 2012. Last year, pork prices increased by 8.5 percent over those of 2010.

View the most recent CPI for Food data.