Forget about ground chuck at $1.99 a pound for a while. Or $2.99 a pound, for that matter.
There’s little relief in sight.
Increases in the cost of living continue to hit levels unseen in 40 years — the latest reading Wednesday was a 8.3% increase in the last 12 months.
Food prices are going up even faster. They’ve increased 9.4% over the last year.
Nate Rose, senior director of communications for the California Grocers Association, told The Bee that grocery store inflation is expected to continue through the rest of the year. But what prices will look like month to month for different food items at your grocery store is hard to predict.
“Grocery stores are doing everything they can to mitigate this inflation for their shoppers,” Rose said. Considering how competitive the industry is, he said, raising prices will be the last thing they want to do.
He said stores are trying to keep prices down for fresh goods, such as milk, eggs and meat, compared to what they could be with inflation, by analyzing price sensitivity, which is the degree at which prices change a customer’s purchasing decisions.
In combination with food price inflation and food insecurity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, people across California are still seeking resources from food banks, said Becky Silva, government relations director at the California Association of Food Banks.
“A lot of our food banks are still reporting that they’re seeing one and a half to three times the number of people coming to their distribution sites than before the pandemic,” Silva said.
With inflation prices at the supermarket, food banks are having trouble stocking their sites.
“A lot of food banks have told us that they’re paying, sometimes, even double what they used to pay for a dozen eggs,” Silva said, adding that some sites have used a disproportionate share of their annual funding for food purchases in just the first few months of the year.
CAN FOOD PRICES BE LOWERED?
There’s just no easy way to bring down food prices.
“The forces driving overall inflation are having an impact on food,” said Joseph Glauber, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, as the rising costs of energy, labor and other items help push food prices higher.