Try to find ground beef for less than $2.99 a pound. Or a loaf of whole wheat bread for under $3.
While these prices may be available if you look seriously, the ones that were popular a few months ago are becoming scarce.
The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Wednesday that prices of food purchased nationally in stores for home use rose 12.2% in the year to June, an increase not seen since 1979. Overall, prices rose 9.1% in the 12 months past, the biggest jump in more than 40 years.
Prices in all six major food categories have risen significantly in the past year, with five categories increasing more than 10%.
Those that rose in double digits include meat, poultry and fish. cereal and bakery products; drinks; Dairy products and other foods. Fruit and vegetable prices increased by 8.1%.
Food is one of the many categories in which inflation has gnashed its teeth, said Daniel Sumner, a professor at the University of California, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, but the truth is that food is notorious for its price swings.
While prices should stabilize somewhat in the coming months, things will still cost more and more.
“Latent inflation affects food just as it affects everything else you buy because it affects the costs of all business — whether it’s a farmer or a supermarket,” Sumner said.
Store-bought food prices are expected to rise 8.5% to 9.5% this year, well above 3.5% last year, the Federal Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service said in its June analysis.
“Increases in food prices at home and food away from home are expected to exceed historical averages and inflation in 2021,” the USDA said.
The Department of Agriculture cited a range of reasons for the various increases in its analysis.
She cited port congestion and high freight costs as a factor in increasing pork prices. She noted that “rapid increases” in consumption had helped drive up dairy prices. She said the Russian invasion of Ukraine is expected to help push prices higher, although interest rate increases could dampen the increases as they reduce demand.
Many factors combine to raise prices.
“Farm prices are usually a small part of the total retail food bill. The overall macro economy remains hot, and energy costs, labor costs, and other non-food costs contribute to food inflation,” said Joseph Glauber, senior researcher at the International Food Policy Research Institute. also”.
There have often been varying reasons why some items are more expensive than others. Egg prices are up 33.1% from a year ago, although the increase slowed to 0.3% last month. Poultry prices jumped 17.3% during the year.
The USDA said the outbreak of bird flu has reduced the number of eggs, which helped drive up egg prices.
The agency found that “retail chicken prices have been high, with historically low stock of frozen chicken (also called ‘cold storage’).”
Avian influenza has also been a factor in poultry prices, with more than 40 million birds affected across the country.
Interactive graph shows change over time
In the western region of the United States, including California, consumers are paying much more than before for basic foodstuffs including dairy products; fruits and vegetables; Meat and grain.
The data used in this interactive line graph below, collected by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, was last updated in July 2022. As per the visualization, values have not been adjusted seasonally. Here is the percentage change in the CPI for foodstuffs in the Western Region from July 2021 to July 2022.
How can I save on my next grocery bill?
Here are two ways to think critically about what you fill your grocery cart with, said Sumner, who also serves as director of the UC Davis Center for Agricultural Issues:
Change the way you shop – look for cheaper alternatives to food. For example, long-grain rice is probably less expensive than short-grain rice.
‘Deal Breaker’ Items – Select items that ‘break the deal’ or products you don’t mind paying extra for.
Buying in Bulk – Depending on your space and the size of your household, buying food in bulk is a “great idea”.
Skip the prepared food – Buying the ingredients needed to make food from scratch is “always cheaper” than buying it ready-made.
Research your organic items: Before buying an organic product, research what it means for that item to be organic and decide what you like about the organic product.
“Food prices are going to go up and down,” Sumner said. “And that’s normal for us.” “And that’s one of the things that makes food a little different from the other items.”
This story was originally published July 13, 2022 1:28 p.m.