In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, grocery prices saw their most significant monthly increase in April since 1974, with consumers paying 2.6% more for groceries, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.
According to the Labor Department, shoppers paid 4.3% more for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs; 1.5% more for fruits and vegetables; and 2.9% more for cereals and bakery products. The Washington Post said the hike in cereals and bakery goods was the highest spike on record.
Inflation impacted a wide array of pantry staples, including:
- Fresh biscuits, rolls, and muffins: Up 4.7%
- Cereals: Up 1.6%
- Rice and pasta: Up 2.5%
- Bread: Up 3.7%
- Cookies: Up 5.1%
- Crackers: Up 4.0%
- Uncooked ground beef: Up 4.8%
- Uncooked beef roasts: Up 5.0%
- Pork chops: Up 7.4%
- Pork roasts, steak, and ribs: Up 10.1%
- Fresh whole chicken: Up 7.1%
- Frankfurters: Up 5.7%
- Fresh fish and seafood: Up 4.2%
- Frozen fish and seafood: Up 5.8%
- Eggs: Up 16.1%
- Milk: Up 1.5%
- Apples: Up 4.9%
- Oranges and tangerines: Up 5.6%
- Canned vegetables: Up 3.6%
- Frozen vegetables: Up 2.7%
- Soups: Up 2.6%
- Snacks: Up 3.8%
- Instant coffee: Up 2.5%
A complete list is available on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website.
Geri Henchy, from the Food Research & Action Center, told the Washington Post that the inflation could be attributed to both a “shift in where consumers are purchasing their food,” as well as “supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 outbreaks in food production facilities.”
In other words, the supply chain was disrupted when consumers abruptly stopped eating at restaurants and drastically ramped up their grocery purchases. And the COVID-19 outbreaks at meat production plants made things worse.
David Henkes, a senior principal at food industry research firm Technomic, told the Washington Post he thinks the inflation in grocery prices will continue for several months.
“There are production issues in some parts of the food industry, and it’s hard to realign the supply chain overnight,” Henkes said. “At the same time, each of these manufacturers and distributors needs to figure out how to start re-servicing restaurants and other food service establishments as they start to come back online, all of which will have an impact on supply, demand and ultimately pricing.”