Remarks of Albert Rees Director of the Council on Wage and Price Stability Before the Spring Board Meeting of the National Canners Association

by Albert Rees on May 12, 1975
by Albert Rees

From the beginning of our current efforts to bring inflation under control, we in the Council on Wage and Price Stability have had a special interest in the price of food. It is for that reason that I am particularly glad to be able to meet this morning with representatives of such an important segment of the food industry.

As you know, the recent news on food prices for consumers has been very good. In March, the Consumer Price Index for food, seasonally adjusted, was down 0.5 percent, and for food consumed at home it was down 0.9 percent. We know that further price reductions have taken place in April and May, and that canned foods have participated

in these price declines.

The Council on Wage and Price Stability has helped to restrain the cost of canned foods. In our discussions with the steel industry last December, we persuaded several companies to roll back a large part of their announced price increases for tinplate, the material from which food cans are made. We have also been making a study of the can manufacturing industry, which will be completed very soon. Finally, we held hearings on the price of sugar that helped to mobilize consumer resistance to high sugar prices, and, as you all know, the price of sugar has since fallen substantially. This is good news for canners of fruit and other sweetened products.

But, although the news about food prices has been good in recent weeks, there are threats on the horizon that could produce higher food prices in the future. One of these was the farm bill passed by the Congress last month, which would have raised loan and target prices for crops very substantially. This could have resulted in the diversion of acreage from badly needed food to cotton, which is already in substantial surplus. Fortunately, President Ford has vetoed this bill and we feel confident that his veto will be sustained.

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