Wilbur Ross Wins Again as Canned Soup and Beer Prices Fall in July

WILBUR-ROSS Campbell Soup
CNBS

Consumers are not paying more for canned foods despite the 10 percent tariff on aluminum that went into effect this year.

The price of canned ham declined in July compared with a year earlier, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Thursday. The price of canned fruit fell in July compared with June, and is now down 1.4 percent compared with a year ago. Canned vegetable prices also fell in July. Compared with the prior year, canned vegetables are up 1.4 percent, well below the 2.3 percent rise in prices overall.

Soup prices fell 0.3 percent, bringing prices a full one percent lower than they were a year ago. The price moves vindicate the claims made by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross defending the tariffs. Ross said in March that the tariffs would have little to no effect on U.S. consumers. He held up a can of Campbell’s soup to illustrate his point.

It’s not just canned food and soup that have defied expectations for price hikes. Automobile prices have barely budged despite the 25 percent steel tariff. New car prices are up just 0.4 percent compared with a year ago. Prices for new trucks were unchanged altogether. Motor vehicle parts were up just 0.1 percent.

Beer prices, which were predicted to rise because of aluminum tariffs, fell in July compared with the previous month. Compared with a year ago, beer prices are up just 1.4 percent. Wine prices, which were not thought to be under pressure from tariffs, rose 1.3 percent.

In almost every category that could have been pressured by tariffs, prices fell or rose by less than overall inflation. The exception is major appliances, where prices rose 8.5 percent compared to a year ago. This was driven in large part by an enormous price hike in washing machines, where prices were up 15.4 percent year-over-year.

Washing machines have been subject to a separate tariff since February. A 20 percent tariff applies to the first 1.2 million imported washing machines, rising to 50 percent on additional imports. Imported washing machine prices get a 50 percent tariff.

But even here, the market is adjusting and prices have started to fall. Compared with June, washing machine prices fell 1.4 percent in July.

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