LOS ANGELES (CBS) — After one of the most stable years for food pricing in decades, analysts say a new inflationary wave will soon hit every outlet in the U.S. from Stater Bros. to Starbucks.

A report from the Wall Street Journal on Thursday says food makers and retailers face difficult decisions on how to pass the soaring prices of staples such as milk, beef, and sugar on to consumers struggling through an already-weak economy.

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Executives from food giants like McDonalds Corp., Kelloggs Corp. and Kroger Corp. are faced with a dilemma: let profits absorb the hikes or pass the increases onto customers, neither of which is an appealing option.

Comparatively speaking, inflation is still not rising as fast as food prices, with the consumer price index for all items minus food and energy rose 0.8 percent over the year to September, the lowest 12-month increase since March 1961, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. However, the food index rose 1.4 percent.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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