Grocery store prices continue to rise amid inflation, supply chain issues
(CNN) - Americans are taking a hit at the grocery store with inflation, supply chain issues and the impact of the omicron variant driving up the cost of food.
Grocery costs keep climbing on everything from meat, to seafood, produce, cereal and much more. Overall prices are up 9% from a year ago.
“It feels like I’m paying a lot more at the register when I finally do check out,” said Mike Crowder who is battling cancer and living on a tight budget.
Kraft Heinz is the latest to announce price hikes on things like Velveeta, Oscar Mayer meats, coffee and Kool-Aid.
The company joins other big brands like General Mills, Campbell Soup and Proctor and Gamble which are raising the price of products.
“So, they put off as long as possible. And now we’re going to feel the effect of that for the next few months,” said Doug Baker, vice president for industry relations with The Food Industry Association.
The entire food supply chain is facing surging costs, congestion and a labor shortage, which have hardly improved.
The number of cargo ships parked off the California coast hit a record high in January. More than 100 are still waiting, even after the ports unloaded 13% more containers than ever before in 2021.
The cost of ingredients, packaging and transportation keep skyrocketing.
“The extraordinary cost pressure that we’re seeing across all different businesses right now is landing in that last resort. That’s why you’re seeing the inflation,” SpartanNash CEO Tony Sarsam explained.
Omicron is adding to it, peeling workers from warehouses, processing facilities and grocery stores.
This month, U.S. pork production dropped 8% in just a week with staff sick or quarantined.
With fewer employees, distributors are cutting orders to some grocery stores by 20-40%.
“It’s been whack-a-mole. It’s one item one day, and then, you know, a completely different segment the next,” said Fresh Encounter owner Michael Needler.
Demand for groceries keeps surging with people stuck at home and inflation at a 39-year high.
A recent survey found 37% of customers are very concerned about shortages seen on items like pet food, paper goods and cream cheese.
The Biden administration says they’re working to ease inflation, accusing some of the largest meat processors of raising prices just to drive up profits.
But experts are projecting more grocery price hikes in the months ahead.
“We have to be really strategic and intentional,” said Beth Moncel who runs a blog about cooking on a budget.
She advises looking for sales before shopping, joining store loyalty programs, and planning meals around cheap filling items like rice and beans, as well as shelf-stable ingredients like frozen vegetables.
“Because every time you throw food away, you’re literally just throwing money in the garbage,” Moncel said.
If you’re struggling, keep an eye out for deals. Florida-based supermarket Winn-Dixie says it’s lowering the cost of 150 popular items by about 18% to ease the burden for shoppers.
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