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Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Grocery shopping for many families has always been a challenge, but it’s becoming increasingly more difficult.
The rising cost of food has many families selecting which products to buy at what stores to get the best deal. More recently, many families have been looking for coupons online and in the newspaper.
In 2011, food prices increased 3.7 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. Additionally, the USDA projects prices to increase between 2.5 and 3.4 percent this year.
That’s slightly higher than the average annual increase of 2 to 3 percent.
In addition to paying for food, gas, car, rent and other expenses, families have been strapped even tighter in past two years.
Arthur Friedberg, an economics professor at Mohawk Valley Community College, said when the U.S. Department of Labor calculates the overall cost of living, food is about 12 to 13 percent of a family’s overall budget.
With people spending less on nonfood items, other parts of the economy also suffer, such as tourism and entertainment.
“People find ways of either substituting or simply cutting back,” Friedberg said. It tends to be psychologically depressing, he said.
“When prices go up, you feel very helpless,” he said. “When a family has to make cutbacks, then everybody in the family is impacted in one way or another.”
Reasons for the rise A nationwide sampling from the U.S. Department of Labor comparing prices since May backs up consumer fears: ? Apples up 5 percent. ? Bread up 3 percent. ? Chicken up 2.5 percent. ? Uncooked ground beef up 5.9 percent. ? Frozen vegetables up 6.1 percent. ? Eggs up 1.4 percent. ? Cheese and related products up 2.4 percent. ? Peanut butter up 39 percent.
The costs are spread out over all items, Friedberg said.
“They’re not huge increases,” he said. “You see a couple cents more on this item and on that item. When you cumulatively add those items up, you notice your bill is up $10 to $12.”
The cost of fuel is a main culprit, Friedberg said. Fuel impacts the cost to produce in terms of farming, processing and transportation.
The fuel costs continue to be a concern for the whole chain,” Friedberg said.
Weather conditions also affect the cost of food. Unseasonably warm weather in February and March caused buds to bloom early that might have been damaged by frost, Friedberg said. This impacts produce, such as cherries, apples and berries.
The cost of corn and grain also affects prices because they not only are ingredients in food, but they also are feed for animals.
Changes in the price of grain affect the price of meats, poultry, eggs and dairy products, according to the USDA Economic Research Service. These items account for more than half of the at-home food dollar, so price increases can impact the consumer significantly.
To combat the rising food prices, families make numerous cuts. cuts.
Some families no longer eat at restaurants, and they limit extras, such as going to the movies to once every couple of months.
Purchasing clothing is also a challenge.
Numerous people have said they always look for sales, and they don’t get the premier brand, basically, they're just living off a limited budget.
The government says the cost of living is creeping up at 3% a year, but anyone who's gone to the grocery store lately knows the numbers don't add up.
What are your thoughts? Feel free to respond here or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a Blessed Day!
Host of Pamela's Place,
Host of Weekend Outlook,
WDNG Radio Inc.
Keywords: food prices, cost, coupons, USDA, cutbacks, food stamps, fuel costs,
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