The U.S. government raised its forecasts for retail prices of beef, pork and fresh vegetables but left its overall food-inflation forecast for 2011 unchanged, reports the Wall Street Journal. The forecast for overall food-price inflation held steady at 3% to 4%, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in its monthly analysis of the federal government's consumer-price index for food, which tracks retail prices of everything from milk to cooking oil and steak.

Retail beef prices are forecast to jump 7% to 8% in 2011, up from a March forecast of 4.5% to 5.5%. The USDA also projects retail pork prices to climb 6.5% to 7.5%, an increase of half a percentage point from the prior month.

Prices of cattle futures contracts hit an all-time high in early April, while lean-hog futures hit a fresh record last week. The U.S. cattle herd stands at a more than five-decade low, while the U.S. breeding herd for hogs is just above all-time lows.

Meanwhile, grain prices have rallied since last summer on strong demand and disappointing crops around the world that have depleted supplies.

Source: Wall Street Journal