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Food Inflation

Grocery Store by IAN RANSLEY DESIGN + ILLUSTRATION is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
IAN RANSLE
“Grocery Store” by IAN RANSLEY DESIGN + ILLUSTRATION is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Economic inflation is a general increase in prices in an economy and a fall in the purchasing value of money.​​ The cost of living has increased since COVID-19. Food prices have been increasing since 2016 in the United States, even when the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has decreased by 0.8%. Food prices compared to February 2023 have also increased by 2.2%. The effects of inflation include higher living expenses, decreased purchasing power, declined value of money, volatile financial markets, and disproportionate impacts on lower-income households. According to Trading Economics, the price of food has increasingly been a problem in most countries since COVID-19. In some first-world countries, the cost of food has recently been going down. Canada’s inflation rate has gone down to 2.78% in February compared to 2.86% in January. For food, yearly, it has gone down 5.25% since 2023. Although like the United States, Japan also has inflation rise to 2.8% compared to 2023 statistics.

In Pennsylvania, the CPI food index rose 1.9% due mainly to the prices of restaurants and fast food. A good marker of how much inflation has changed the prices of food is by looking at fast food restaurants. McDonalds’ pricing has gone up around 10% from 2023. Big Macs in December of 2023 cost $5.58, while in December of 2020, the Big Mac costs $4.89. In early October, the price for a Quarter Pounder was $5.45. According to Community and Economic Growth Research, the Quarter Pounder was down 6% at $5.14 earlier this year. The price of restaurant food is not only affected by the country but also by the state in which the restaurant is located. Brian Spratt, owner of Locals Pizzeria and Cedar Union Cafe, said, “Yes, we raised prices to profit. And yes, we probably lost some customers, but I refuse to sell a cheaper, lesser product to save money. My ingredients are very important to my business; they are just as important as the employees.” The ingredients that Spratt has seen significantly increase are, “Poultry items: chicken, & eggs the most. Cheese, beef, and flour were close behind. Veggies raised a lot as well.

On an at-home level, it is equally as hard to get good quality food for a price that is not excessive. Jennifer Wagner, a mother who buys the groceries in her house, said, “We spend approximately $200 a week on groceries which covers lunches, snacks, toiletries, paper products, drinks, and other essentials. When I add in what we buy to either cook dinner or eat out for the week, it’s about another $200 a week. So the total is maybe $400/week. This has been a steady increase with an astronomical swing in the last 4 years.” To keep up with the increase of the grocery bill Wagner had to adjust small things in her life, “We have been able to save in other ways. For example, we hardly ever go to the movies anymore. It seems unjustifiable when you can rent movies for the cost of half a single movie ticket in the theatre. Some of my favorite brands for paper products/cleaning products/etc., have had to be replaced with generic brands. These were easy changes to make. However, ‘shrinkflation’ is real! The amount of groceries you get for your money is less, and the quality is worse!”

Sources:

https://www.businessinsider.com/mcdonalds-price-hikes-putting-off-low-income-customers-inflation-expensive-2024-2#:~:text=McDonald’s%20put%20menu%20prices%20up,franchisees%20set%20their%20own%20prices.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/fast-food-inflation-2023-why-it-is-high-mcdonalds-prices/
https://www.bls.gov/regions/mid-atlantic/news-release/consumerpriceindex_northeast.htm
https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/ag-and-food-statistics-charting-the-essentials/food-prices
https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/ag-and-food-statistics-charting-the-essentials/food-prices-and-spending/?topicId=1afac93a-444e-4e05-99f3-53217721a8be
https://www.jec.senate.gov/cards/pa/
https://www.statista.com/statistics/1426468/food-inflation-rate-in-the-us/
https://www.statista.com/statistics/271247/inflation-rate-in-canada/
https://tradingeconomics.com/new-zealand/food-inflation
https://www.statista.com/statistics/1426468/food-inflation-rate-in-the-us/
https://www.statista.com/statistics/271247/inflation-rate-in-canada/

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Paige Agnew, Student Writer
Paige Agnew, Grade 12. Interests/hobbies include running, dancing, hiking, link crew, and hanging out with friends and family. Paige plans to attend Arcadia Univerity to study physical therapy.

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