Find Shopping Stressful? Now, a Historic Price Hike

Food-price fluctuations began in March, when the coronavirus really sunk in
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 30, 2020 11:15 AM CDT

(Newser) – As if trips to the grocery store weren’t nerve-wracking enough, US shoppers lately have seen the costs of meat, eggs, and even potatoes soar as the coronavirus has disrupted processing plants and distribution networks, the AP reports. Overall, the cost of food bought to eat at home skyrocketed by the most in 46 years, and analysts caution that meat prices in particular could remain high as slaughterhouses struggle to maintain production levels while implementing procedures intended to keep workers healthy. While price spikes for staples such as eggs and flour have eased as consumer demand has leveled off, prices remain volatile for carrots, potatoes, and other produce because of transportation issues and the health of workers who pick crops and work in processing plants.

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In short, supermarket customers and restaurant owners shouldn't expect prices to drop anytime soon. "Our biggest concern is long-term food costs. I believe they will continue to go up," says Julie Kalambokidis, co-owner of a restaurant in Glenwood, Iowa. The owner of a Mexican-inspired fast food franchise adds that "you can pick an ingredient and I can tell you there are shortages." Big fluctuations in food prices began in March, when the coronavirus pandemic began to sink in for US consumers. The Labor Department reports that the 2.6% jump in April food prices was the largest monthly increase in 46 years. Prices for meats, poultry, fish and eggs increased the most, rising 4.3%. The 2.9% jump in cereals and bakery products wasn't as steep, it was still the largest the agency has recorded.

(Read more food prices stories.)

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