Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Food prices are way up!

In a Los Angeles Times article, Food prices eat deeper into wallets, we read: (emp add, excerpts)
Southland residents already pay among the highest grocery prices in the nation, and the forecast is for even higher costs. Federal statistics released Tuesday for April show that food prices in Southern California rose 5.7% from a year earlier.

Prices are going up for much of what gets dumped into the grocery cart including cereals, bread, bacon, pork roasts, chicken, eggs, cookies, hot dogs, oranges, soda pop and dried beans.

Nationally, food prices rose 3.9% in April compared with the same month in 2006, and the outlook is equally chilling wherever you shop. It is happening for many reasons: inflation, drought, freezing weather, even the rising cost of corn — highly sought after not only as ingredients for thousands of food products but also to make ethanol.

The base price for milk in California is up 30% from a year earlier. Nationally, milk is up 3.2%.

The price of a pound of oranges in Southern California has jumped nearly 75% to more than $1. Nationally, they have climbed 34.1%.

A 1-pound package of ground beef at Ralphs has risen 16% to $2.89 in the last year, according to, which tracks prices. Nationally, ground beef is up 2.7%.

Twelve ounces of Tyson Frozen Chicken Nuggets at Ralphs are $4.59, up 18% from about a year ago. Chicken is up 5.5% nationally.

A box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese at the supermarket chain is 25% more than a year ago, while the price of a 34.5-ounce container of Folger's coffee is up 30 cents to $9.69. Nationally, the price of coffee rose 4.9% in April compared with a year earlier, government data showed.

At Vons, red seedless grapes are up 17% from about a year ago to $3.49 a pound.
Those are striking examples, but they aren't exotic, and so the government claim that food prices have jumped 5.7% seems artificially low.

A week ago in a post about consumer borrowing and the economy, this blogger, who lives in Los Angeles, wrote:
... I keep close track of food expenses and those have risen 35% in the last 12 months ...
Government says 5.7%, I experience 35% (and have the spreadsheets to prove it). Am I unusual? I an extremely frugal and look for sales and whatnot. Those - the discount prices - have risen even faster. And in the Los Angeles Times story there is support for that contention. One mother was profiled as something of a typical shopper:
[ Wendy Diamond, a Long Beach mother of three] now buys more house brands such as the cereal, has cut soda pop from her budget and makes bread and ice cream at home.

Even so, Diamond figures the monthly food bill for her family of six — a husband, three children and a grandparent — has risen by $100 to $400 from a year ago.
What's a $100 increase over $300 spent a year ago? That's right, 33%.

One of the more disconcerting things about this LATimes story is that the government reporting of inflation is so way off.

Of course, there are people and institutions that benefit from a falsely low inflation report. The government expecially, since many benefits are tied to the cost of living. So let's not kid ourselves about what's going on.


I buy milk at Costco usually (one of the few items they have you don't have to buy in bulk) and it's gone from $1.99 to $2.25 since January- 13% in 6 months. Milk in regular stores has gone way up- used to be $3/gallon, now $3.50 or $4. Eggs have also gone up, they used to be less than $1/dz (when you buy 36 at Costco) they're now around $1.25/dz- 25% increase. Maybe there are other things that are offsetting (caviar maybe?) but everything I buy is up at least 10% in the last 6 months.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/16/2007 10:22 AM  

The not-so-frugal among us eat out a lot and prices are going up there, too. Looks like I'll be eating-in more often from now on. Also, cable TV and internet have gotten really expensive. I've already cut back to local channels only on cable and may cut out the internet before long, too.

By Anonymous e. nonee moose, at 5/16/2007 10:56 AM  

I know exactly what you mean. I eat out all the time and I feel the heavy expense of food. I just ate at baja fresh and spent 7.99 on fast food! The only thing fast about it is me losing my money. The only really cheap fast food out there is the food from the dollar menu of Mcdonald's! Do you love food and want to save? Go on a free trip for two to a top resort when you win instantly on gourmet's sweepstakes: I am giving you the inside scoop because I work with gourmet, like you gave the tip on rising food prices! Here's to savings.

By Blogger LizainLosAngeles, at 5/16/2007 1:32 PM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Blogger LizainLosAngeles, at 5/16/2007 1:32 PM  

California leads the country in production of many different kinds of foods including milk. It is puzzling to me why food prices in Los Angeles would be among the nation's highest. The obvious answer is that the delivery of food from from farm to market is so "rationalized" that being close to producing areas makes no difference and that regional variations in food costs stem largely from differences in the cost of storage and retail rents.

By Blogger Ichabod, at 5/16/2007 3:47 PM  

Quite simply, the cost of gasoline has gone up 33% which means that the cost of everything else in America has to follow suit.

No surprise.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/19/2007 11:19 AM  

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