While the latest inflation report might have shown welcome signs of inflation continuing to cool, one supermarket and oil CEO told Americans to prepare for the exact opposite.
“Prices are going up. Gasoline is going up. Everything is going up. So I’m not a historian, I am a person that deals with it every day,” Red Apple Group and United Refining Company Chairman and CEO John Catsimatidis said on a “Mornings with Maria” panel Wednesday. “And we have to worry about: what [is the Fed] going to do?”
The Labor Department said Wednesday that the consumer price index, a broad measure of the price for everyday goods including gasoline, groceries and rents, rose 0.1% in March from the previous month, down from 0.4% in February. Prices climbed 5% on an annual basis, down sharply from February’s 6% increase and the smallest rise in nearly two years.
Both figures were lower than forecasts by Refinitiv economists.
Still, inflation remains about three times higher than the pre-pandemic average, underscoring the persistent financial burden placed on millions of U.S. households by high prices.
Catsimatidis cautioned the financial burden could soon become even greater, arguing a rise in the price of oil will kick up inflation on grocery store shelves as transportation and shipping costs increase alongside fuel.
“I hate to give you bad news. We are being historians. We are looking at last month’s numbers, crude oil was at $70, went down to $65,” the billionaire CEO pointed out. “Well, the Saudis and the Russians… they said, to heck with that, we’re going to cut oil. And what happened? We went from $65 back to $80.”
Catsimatidis referred to the recent Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) production cuts set to begin in May, which has meant the national gas price average, in response to the announcement, has slowly climbed.
As of Wednesday, the national average price for a gallon of gas was $3.62, up 22 cents from the previous month and 7 cents from the week ending on April 6, according to AAA.
“What food executive, knowing that, is going to cut prices? Forget about it. It’s not going to happen,” Catsimatidis said. “The price of oil is going to go up to $80, $85. And guess what? Food is not going to go down.”
On his Gristedes and D’Agostino store shelves, the CEO said price tags haven’t gone up quite yet, but predicted Americans might start seeing spikes next month.
The cost of groceries fell 0.3% in March, although the 12-month increase remains at 8.4%. Despite the decrease, consumers continued to pay more for items like cereal, rice, bread, fish and seafood.
“Prices are not going down right now. They’re going to go up again, and that’s a problem,” Catsimatidis said. “And the Fed’s not smart enough to see that in advance. And that is surprising. And there’s a new shoe that’s going to fall.”