Prices at the supermarket keep rising. So do corporate profits – By Whizy Kim (VOX) / Mar 17 2023
Is it really inflation? Or something else?
It’s not just eggs that have been eye-poppingly expensive due to inflation. The literal bread and butter of the American diet cost much more today than it did just a couple of years ago: The average price of white bread was about 22 percent higher in January than it was two years ago, and flour is up almost 21 percent. Butter cost 31 percent more.
Ordinary Americans have been watching their grocery bills climb to new heights as prices rise on cereals, meat, dairy, fruits, and vegetables — virtually everything we eat. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the price of food for home consumption rose by 11.4 percent last year — the highest yearly percent change since 1974 – and it’s expected to rise by another 8.6 percent in 2023. Compare that to the last two decades, when average year-to-year food price inflation was 2 percent. Consumers are at the limit of what they can afford.
For the most vulnerable families, the squeeze at the grocery store has become that much more dire. A recent survey of American households that receive food stamps conducted by financial software company Propel showed that almost a third were skipping meals, eating less, or relying on food banks as food prices balloon. On March 1, a pandemic boost to the food stamps program ended, and households will now on average have $95 less per month to spend on food.
Food companies say their price increases merely reflect how much their costs have gone up due to “inflationary pressures,” like higher labor costs, transportation delays, and capacity issues, or the higher price of grains and animal feed. Yet inflation in 2022 outpaced the rise in wages in most industries, and the prices of many agricultural commodities have come down.
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