John Catsimatidis, the billionaire owner and CEO of New York City supermarket chain Gristedes, argued on Monday that food prices will "continue to rise" for the next three months as the war between Russia and Ukraine rages on and the price of oil remains elevated.
Catsimatidis, who is also the CEO of United Refining Company and Red Apple Group, a real estate and aviation company, told "Mornings with Maria" that he predicts that within the next 30 to 45 days food prices will soar another 10% amid the inflationary environment.
Inflation hit a fresh 40-year high in February with the consumer price index climbing 7.9% on an annual basis, according to data released last month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Month over month, inflation rose 0.8%.
The year-over-year reading is in line with estimates and compares with an annual 7.5% jump in January, marking the fastest increase since February 1982, when inflation hit 7.6%.
From January to February, nearly every category of goods and services got pricier. Gas jumped 6.6% and accounted for almost a third of price hikes. Grocery costs jumped 1.4%, the sharpest one-month increase since 1990, other than during a pandemic-induced price surge two years ago. The cost of fruits and vegetables rose 2.3%, the largest monthly increase since 2010.
For the 12 months ending in February, grocery prices leaped 8.6%, the biggest year-over-year increase since 1981, the government said. Gas prices are up a whopping 38%. And housing costs have risen 4.7%, the largest yearly jump since 1991.
Inflation data for March will be released next week. The February data, the latest data currently available, was taken before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which pushed prices for some commodities higher. The costs of wheat, corn, cooking oils and such metals as aluminum and nickel have soared since the war began as Ukraine and Russia are leading exporters of those commodities.
As inflation rises, meat and poultry prices are largely expected to continue their climb in the U.S. this year, according to a new analysis.
Catsimatidis argued that if President Biden "reverses course" on his energy stance and "opens up North America," the U.S. "can be self-sufficient" once again and "the prices of food will come right down" as the price of oil impacts transportation costs.
He went on to recommend a North American energy treaty, which will allow for the production of "15 million barrels a day" and will in turn "make North America self-sufficient."
"There’s no reason we should be making our enemies rich and making the American people poor," he added. "And that’s what it comes down to."
|USO||UNITED STATES OIL FUND L.P.||79.92||+0.52||+0.65%|
|BNO||UNITED STS BRENT OIL FD LP UNIT||31.71||+0.22||+0.70%|
Oil and gas prices have been rising as demand recovers from the depths of the coronavirus pandemic and as demand increases. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a major oil and gas producer, has increased the risk that sanctions and export restrictions could negatively impact supply amid the rising demand.
On Monday, a barrel of U.S. crude oil gained $1.64 to around $101 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Early last month, when disruptions to oil supply were at their height, the price briefly touched $130.
Last week, oil prices fell around 13% after President Biden announced the largest-ever U.S. oil reserves release, intending to help alleviate record-high gas prices across the U.S.
Brent crude, the international benchmark, was trading higher on Monday at around $106 per barrel.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.