Do you get the sense that groceries have gotten more expensive in recent months? The U.S. government says you're right.
A report from the United States Department of Agriculture, most recently updated on July 27, found that "retail prices for nearly all food-at-home categories [were] up in June 2020 compared with June 2019."
According to the USDA chart, of all of the categories of foods listed, only "fresh fruits" saw an average price decrease year-over-year. Prices of beef and veal rose the most of any category listed, by around 25 percent, while pork and eggs each rose by more than ten percent.
Most other categories, including fish and seafood, dairy, fats and oils, fresh vegetables, sugar and sweets, and nonalcoholic beverages, saw single-digit increases. The overall figure for grocery store prices was an increase of 5.6 percent between June 2019 and June 2020.
"Many of these increases were influenced by the coronavirus pandemic," the report said. "The pandemic disrupted supply chains of several commodities—and affected consumers’ food spending patterns—which put upward pressure on wholesale and retail food prices. The spring 2020 closing of schools and stay-at-home orders resulted in the dairy industry having to shift from supplying products for schools and restaurants to supplying products for grocery stores and other food retailers (food at home)."
Why did the price of beef rise so much? Increased supply chain disruptions, while "decreased slaughter volumes due to COVID-19 led to a bottleneck in supply which boosted prices." Concerns have indeed been raised, since the start of the pandemic, about the fragility of American supply chains.
The data, the USDA said, came from the Economic Research Service’s Food Price Outlook.
Last month, per Fern's AG Insider, the USDA forecast that grocery prices would rise by three percent this year, the largest increase since 2011, when they rose 4.8 percent. It was also predicted that the inflation rate for groceries would exceed that of “food away from home," meaning restaurants, which is a rare occurrence.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.