Gathered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the CPI shows that the cost of food at home, aka groceries, rose by 0.8% in September, mirroring the same 0.8% jump in August and adding to the overall 13% increase in the cost of food over this time last year.
The CPI breaks down the cost of goods into several categories, tracking rates of inflation on a monthly basis. The report is also what the Federal Reserve uses to assess their decisions on whether or not to raise interest rates to try curb inflation and a full-blown recession, as they’ve done several times this year as prices continue to climb.
In total, the CPI shows that almost all categories of goods had increases in September, except for gas/fuel, used vehicles and apparel, which contributed to an overall 0.4% increase for the month and 8.2% year-over-year.
Yet food remains the category that continues to have one of the most significant price jumps. According to the report, all six major grocery food groups saw increases in cost: Fresh fruits and vegetables are up 1.6%, bakery products and cereal are up 0.9%, meats/poultry/fish/eggs are up 0.4%, dairy products are up 0.3% and nonalcoholic drinks are up 0.6%. The “other” category is also up 0.5%.
Looking at how those individual category prices have changed over the course of the year, the findings are even starker. Per the report, the biggest jump has been for cereal and baked goods, which are up 16.2% over this time last year while dairy is up 15.9% and meats/poultry/fish/eggs are up 9%.
According to Forbes, there are a few key reasons why food prices continue to rise. A big one is the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war which began in February. Due to the war, many countries including the U.S. have imposed sanctions that have limited imported resources including those needed for food production such as fertilizer that farmers need to grow crops (already at a sensitive level due to droughts this year) and fuel needed to transport goods.
Not to mention the fact that Ukraine and Russia together are one of the biggest exporters of wheat, producing up to 30% of the world supply. That alone is reflected in the price hike for cereal and baked goods.
Another issue is the continued supply chain dilemma as a result of the pandemic. When people around the world were forced to stay home to eat three meals a day, it put a huge pressure on grocery stores, says Forbes.
Experts are unclear when the prices will eventually drop but have some recommendations in the meantime for how to save on grocery store trips. NBC says that warehouse and big box premium plan memberships can be worth the annual fee as places like Costco and options like Walmart+ offer significant discounts over traditional retail prices.
The news outlet’s other tips include meal planning to buy only what you need for the week, coupon clipping using digital options and apps and stocking up by buying in bulk to avoid the price hikes that can happen on a weekly basis.
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