WASHINGTON — The Consumer Price Index for food and beverages increased 0.2 percent in December, climbing to 231.4 from 230.9 in November, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the Department of Labor. The gain followed advances of 0.1 percent in both November and October.

The food index also rose 0.2 percent in December after rising 0.1 percent in both November and October.

Four of the six major grocery store food groups increased during December, led by a 0.7 percent gain in meats, poultry, fish and eggs, which rose to 228.8 from 227.2 in November. The gain came despite a decline in the index for eggs, the BLS said.

Also advancing in December were the indexes for cereals and bakery products, which rose 0.3 percent to 267.4, and nonalcoholic beverages, which also climbed 0.3 percent to 169.7.

The index for other food at home advanced 0.4 percent to 201.8.

In contrast, the index for fruits and vegetables again finished lower, easing 0.5 percent after falling 0.6 percent in November and 1.7 percent in October. The BLS said the fresh vegetables index continued to decline, falling 1.4 percent during December.

The index for dairy and related products fell 0.1 percent in December to 218.5. The index declined 0.3 percent in November.

The index for food at home followed up a 0.1 percent decline in November by climbing 0.3 percent in December. The index for food at home rose 6 percent in 2011 compared with 1.7 percent in 2010, and all six major grocery store food group indexes advanced in 2011, with increases ranging from 2.3 percent for fruits and vegetables, to 8.1 percent for dairy and related products.

The food away from home index rose 0.2 percent in December after rising 0.3 percent in November and rose 2.9 percent in 2011 after increasing 1.3 percent in 2010.

The overall Consumer Price Index was unchanged for the second consecutive month. The index now has increased 3 percent over the past 12 months.