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Why Are Food Prices Shooting Up?

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Has anyone heard anything about why food prices are rising steeply and suddenly? I can't believe what I am seeing---in Chicago, at least, basics like cheese and oatmeal have doubled in price. Just curious.

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  1. Transportation costs are up. World-wide demand for food, ditto. Fear of poor crop yields due to really bad weather recently in many parts of the globe. I fear this is more of a trend than a blip.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pikawicca

      NOAA says wettest and hottest year on record. Blame it on the fossil fuels. We've passed peak oil and our population keeps growing.

    2. I haven't bought oatmeal lately, but cheese, meat, produce, etc. haven't increased appreciably in price in Northern California. Maybe it's a regional thing?

      4 Replies
      1. re: alanbarnes

        I buy natural oats from bulk bin at either Sunsplash (part of NRG) or WF...I paid .89 per pound for them and that's about what they've always been, just saying. Haven't seen the spike in price here yet, anyway.

        1. re: alanbarnes

          cheese, meat, produce, etc. haven't increased appreciably in price in Northern California.
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          really? produce hasn't? because it certainly has in Southern California!

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            Onions have been high because of a bad harvest last year, but aside from that I haven't noticed any significant increases.

            1. re: alanbarnes

              broccoli & green beans have increased down here. i know it has a lot to do with the torrential rains we had last month, and the produce guy at one of the stores where i do a lot of my shopping said they're having a heck of a time getting a decent supply of root vegetables at this point because of it as well, since the ground was too saturated and waterlogged a lot of the crops. he warned me that beets, carrots, fennel, turnips, parsnips, radishes, etc may be hard to come by in the next few weeks.

        2. Here's an article about the global food chain stretched to the limit and food prices soaring due to tightened supplies as a result of bad weather and rising global demand:

          http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41062817/...

          1 Reply
          1. re: janniecooks

            All grain futures are going through the roof. Causes range from Russia not exporting this year due to poor crops, fires, etc. The Asian demand for meat is exploding; to raise animals you need grain such as corn, look at the historical price of a bushel of corn over the last 18 months. Not a food item, but cotton futures are also skyrocketing, the U.S.A. is the world's largest producer of cotton. Look for cotton and cotton blended garments to go up an average of $2.00 retail starting in Fall 2011

          2. To be a bit more specific than "food," has anyone noticed the absurd price of peanut oil today? I've been buying it in bulk for years. Well, gallon jugs anyway. For one person living alone, that's "bulk." I ran out yesterday. It is currently $28.00 a gallon for LuAnne peanut oil at Walmart!! That's $7.00 a quart. And if you want organic from Amazon, it's $8.00 a pint plus shipping! I can buy ghee for $6.00 a pint and not have to clarify butter myself. "Insanity" is the new name for instant inflation! What's that you say, Tiny Tim. "God bless us one and all?" You better hope!

            11 Replies
            1. re: Caroline1

              Do you mean LouAna Pure Peanut Oil?? I buy a lot of it....a couple of gallons (or the 3 gallon container) at a time from Wally World....I don't pay that much attention to it's price but I'm thinking $12.99,,,$13.99....Certainly no where close to $28.00.....

              1. re: Uncle Bob

                I bought some recently it was also about $13

                1. re: smartie

                  Just had someone check an independent grocer...Private Label 100% Pure Peanut Oil ~~ $9.99 Gallon ~~

                  1. re: Uncle Bob

                    hanks to both you and smartie for the reassuring words and meantime I will pray that there was an error in the price at my Walmart at SZpringcreek and Central Expressway in Plano, Texas, but... on January 14th LouAna Pure Peanut Oil was $28.00 a gallon! I tried to find it in other Walmart stores by changing my zip code on the website, and could get no prices anywhere else... "Out of stock" or "Enter a different zip code" was the response. Scared the blazes out of me! We'll see if it all shakes out to your prices or not... I sure hope it doesn't shake out to my local prices! It's scary.

                    1. re: Caroline1

                      Oh, and just for the record, I called my local Walmart and asked for today's price on a gallon of peanut oil... It's STILL $28.00 a gallon! I asked the manager if he knew why. He said they just mark the price of their incoming goods with what they're told to mark them by the head office. If I lived somewhere where it's still $15.00 a gallon, I'd stock up! Or maybe I'll move. This is ridiculous!

                      1. re: Caroline1

                        Caroline ~~ Just went by a Wally World...LouAna Peanut Oil $9.99 Gallon ~~$28.34 for the 3 (Three) Gallon container!!. ~~ It would seem your local Wally World has their shelf tags (price tags) crossed up...Take a gallon to the front end, and have it price checked....HTH!

                        1. re: Uncle Bob

                          Above and beyond. Bless you! I did call and talk to the grocery dept manager the other day and he said, yep, $28.00. Checked on line and couldn't get a price. So after your post I called another Walmart in the area... $10.00 a gallon! So I called my usual Walmart... $28.00! I explained to the store manager (for what it's worth) that they have the 3 gallon price on the one gallon product! He said he'd look into it. I may be changing Walmart Stores. Apparently they've had that price at that store for a while now because my housekeeper told me that's what they paid when they needed some for a deep fryer for her husband's birthday party. I will be pursuing this farther, and thank you for your help!

                          1. re: Caroline1

                            You're Welcome!

                            1. re: Uncle Bob

                              Sweet victory. Well, close anyway. Had a chat with the store manager this morning, explained the problem to him, when I said their current shelf price is for the 3 gallon size but they only have single gallons in stock and that's what they're charging at the register, he said he would take care of it. About an hour later, I bought a gallon for $10.86, which is not quite $9.99, but hey, it beats $28.00 a gallon by a country mile! Thanks again for the help, Uncle Bob, and to everyone else.

                              1. re: Caroline1

                                Caroline -- if you live in an area that has Publix grocery stores, they have a different brand of oil (quart) for BOGO every couple of weeks, with no limit. That's usually how we stock up in my family.

                                1. re: neel2004

                                  neel, arrghhh! with Publix but not on the oil...I've noticed at least one item they've jacked the price up...instant light charcoal..used to be $2.99 for 4 pounds...NOW it's $2.99 for 3.3 pounds...I've brought it to their attention, yet another item I'll be buying at Target or Walmart. I buy less and less at Publix, same with many co-workers.

            2. Corn and soybean prices are now re-testing the multi-year highs that we saw in spring 2008. Bad weather has affected crops and inventories. Oil prices are pushing $100/barrel again. All this feeds into food costs. Corn and soybeans feed cows --> milk is more expensive --> cheese is more expensive. Higher fuel costs = higher transport costs for every link in the farm-to-table chain.

              1. Yeah, it's pretty much extreme weather (droughts, floods) that's affecting food prices everywhere around the world. That's the immediate cause, at least. I'm afraid almost everyone is to blame if we dig deeper...

                1. Wanna go back to the "good ole days"?? (When things were cheap) ~~~ This (Now) IS the "good ole days" ~~~ Don't think so??? ~~~ Meet me here in 2 years ~~

                  Have Fun!!!

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Uncle Bob

                    wait till we lose chocolate. and bannanas.

                    1. re: Uncle Bob

                      I have thought about that and it scares me. When I was a child circa 1940 I was sent to the store for "a dime's worth of lunchmeat"; the same dime bought a large coffee cake at the bakery. When I went to keeping house in the 1950's I paid 69 cents for a gallon of milk. In the1960's round steak was 29 cents a pound. Fast-forward to the present when milk is $3.50 a gallon and the round steak goes on sale for $2.99 and the rest of the time is $4.59. If that price differential speaks for 40-50 years, what will people be paying in 2050, 2060?

                      1. re: Querencia

                        Wages have gone up since 1960 too.

                        1. re: jla1960

                          Too many people forget that. I can remember sometime in the 60s thinking that if I ever made $1k/mo. I wouldn't know how to spend it all :)

                          1. re: c oliver

                            For perspective, the price of a new house in 1970 was $26,600, and a shiny new automobile was $3900.

                            1. re: Veggo

                              Shop then, earn now!

                    2. you're not the only one who notices:

                      http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                      1. Corn is being produced more for ethanol than for food.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: NicoleFriedman

                          It's not really that simple an equation. You may find this article educational:

                          http://www.associatedcontent.com/arti...

                          1. re: NicoleFriedman

                            And I guess you think driling for oil is better than making ethanol from corn?

                          2. I live in Wisconsin and I've been b!tching about it for months! I don't mind paying more at the farmers' markets, higher end stores but I've noticed a huge jump at the nearest mid-range grocery chain, which I visit for in-between market runs.

                            At my last trip to the mid-range grocery store I paid: $5.50 for a quart of heavy cream, non-organic; grapeseed oil, $20 for about 16 ounces; LouAnna peanut oil referenced in another post, $19.99 a gallon; blood oranges, $1 each; limes, 40 cents each, last year they were only 10 cents each; $1.40 for a packet of Ramen (don't judge, I didn't use the flavor packet, I needed the noodles for an ATK recipe).

                            Oddly enough, the small businesses (fruit market, fish market, butcher) have not raised prices, I'm assuming because they can't afford too, unlike the larger chains.

                            I still can't get over the $5.50 for a quart of heavy cream, though. The organic is $2 for a cup. I live in the dairy state for cryin' out loud and I have to pay what amounts to $22 a gallon for non-organic cream or $32 a gallon for organic. Wow, just doing the math there made me really sad but I refuse to give up my heavy cream.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: ribeye621

                              Check out $3.59 for five pounds of ordinary Gold Medal Flour in Chicago. Commercial bakers must be having a fit.

                              1. re: Querencia

                                Or not...I just purchased a 25# bag of A.P Flour (Gold Metal was not on the bag) for $7.02 for our bake shop at work

                            2. I've noticed prices going up more at Walmart than at grocery store-only chains. I wonder if that's just a mistake on my end, or if it's because of the lower margins and tight supply chain control that Wal-mart uses in their business practices. Right now, a lot of the stuff I used to buy at Wal-Mart is now cheaper at places like Kroger, Publix, or Trader Joe's/Aldi.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: neel2004

                                According to my morning news, today Walmart is announcing pricing cut backs and that they're cutting fats and salt content in their store brands. See? They're not such bad guys! '-)

                              2. It's bad and going to get worse. I work in the non-commercial sector (Colleges & Universities) of the food industry. We're being hit with escalating prices as well. I buy a lot of product and work directly with various vendors.

                                Our produce vendor sends out a weekly newsletter updating conditions. Let's just say they're pretty bleak right now. The freezes in Florida and the Southeast have pretty much devastated the tomato and citrus crops. The excessive rain has done in any number of crops in CA, lettuce being a big one. Mexico isn't an option for some items as the USDA has embargoed some Mexican produce due to various pest problems, most notably limes.

                                When grain prices go up, feed prices to farmers go up? End result? Higher meat prices. Also, if you can recall, about 3 years ago Colorado and somes of the other plains states experienced a bitterly cold winter. Some cattlemen reported losing up to 90% of the cavles born during this period. That would mean there was less beef on the hoof to reach maturity.

                                My primary distributor has already told me to expect prices to go high for most meats, dairy, cheese and eggs. Typically eggs spike through the holidays but come back to reasonable level by mid to late January. Our egg prices in 2010 were pretty consistently at least 50% higher than in 2009, while our meat and dairy prices held pretty firm. Not expecting that this year.

                                Fuel costs always play into the equation. A major portion of the food distribution in the U.S. is by truck. When fuel prices go up, so does the price of the goods they carry. Most distributors add fuel surcharges on to each delivery when gas spikes. Some vendors, especially the smaller ones, simply increase their prices and send a letter stating the price increase is due to high fuel and delivery charges.

                                Gas is the most obvious, but petroleum products are well represented in the food industry. Plastic film products, plastic utensils, most disposables, and so on.

                                Another huge factor that's going to affect food prices, because it will be passed through, are the health insurance costs that employeers are being charged by their carriers to cover their employees. Many, if not most, manufacturers are union shops with union wages and attractive benefit programs, the best of which is health care. Many, if not most (and probably almost all) truckers and warehousemen are also union employees with union wages and attractive benefit plans. Insurance companies were allowed to raise their rates substantially on January 1st. Whatever increase manufacturers, distributors and grocery stores get from their corportate insurance carriers will be passed along to the customer.

                                Based on the information I'm getting from my industry sources, it's going to be a pretty bumpy ride for food prices in 2011.

                                28 Replies
                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                  Actually, union membership in manufacturing is less than 12%.

                                  1. re: jla1960

                                    Most of the food manufacuturers I've had the opportunity to visit or tour usually indicated they were union shops. Perhaps I just happened to visit mostly union shops.

                                  2. re: DiningDiva

                                    From the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs021.htm : "In 2008, about 11 percent of truck transportation and 7 percent of warehousing and storage workers were union members or are covered by union contracts, compared with approximately 14 percent of workers in all industries." Most of the truckers I know are self employed owner-operators, who buy their own insurance, and they've told me the industry is trending toward this sort of independent contractor arrangement.

                                    1. re: amyzan

                                      I believe you, however, the driver of every truck that hits my loading dock is a Teamster.

                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                        Food prices are going up because customers are willing to pay them.

                                        Our current ethic of self-actualization derides thrift as a denial of one's true self.

                                        Denial of one's true self is the root of evil.

                                        Thus imprudent spending is the affirmation of life!

                                        Thank you, you've been a wonderful audience...remember dinner is included with the early show.

                                        Try the veal, it's terrific!

                                        1. re: postemotional1

                                          Food prices are going up because customers are 'willing?' to pay them???? ummmm... Do you mean that if we all get together and petition the grocery chains, they'll drop thier prices just for the asking? Food prices do NOT go up because shoppers are willing to pay. Unless you're a farmer or have a huge fertile garden, you pay for groceries, not out of choice, but to eat. Plain and simple.

                                          But for the rest of what you say, I agree. The legacy of the ME generation sucks!

                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                            Caroline, There is a speck of truth in the previous post. If consumer demand, for whatever reason, suddenly went down by more than 20%. the market would collapse for that item; and in agriculture, it would stop being grown by many producers until prices/demand recovered.

                                            1. re: ospreycove

                                              Exactly!

                                              This would be radical conservatism!

                                              As Walt Kelly's Pogo said "We have met the enemy and he, (she), is us!"

                                              1. re: ospreycove

                                                Unless you are a subsidized grower in the U.S. One of the functions of the USDA Commodity program is to stablize agricultural pricing in order to prevent the bottom from falling out.

                                              2. re: Caroline1

                                                Fuel prices went up in California (hit $3/gallon) almost a year before the rest of the US. I would see vehicles end to end waiting for a burger and fries -all that In-N-Out sells- and in the same parking lot, seven cars waiting for a beverage at Starbucks. Californians complacently paid and did not even consider conserving.

                                                I honestly believe that the manufacturers saw that Californians did not care/did not conserve and that was why it spread and hit closer to $4 that one summer. Until the more conservative Midwesterners did not buy into all of that and did start to consciously conserve.

                                                I do think the same thing is happening -and has happened- with food and the prices, notwithstanding the bizarre weather patterns which did devastate some crops. Broccoli was $2 a pound the week before Christmas and crowns were $1/lb last week and is on sale today for 88¢/lb today.

                                                1. re: Cathy

                                                  Broccoli was $2 a pound the week before Xmas precisely because it was the week before Christmas. It has, however, been a pretty funky crop this winter. Sometimes when the weather is really bad, the initial hit isn't when the bad weather happens. There's usually enough product in the pipeline (i.e. already picked, and or in transit) to keep shelves stocked for a period of time. There's the lag time between when the supplies peter out, the farmers replant and the new crop gets into full production mode when the prices spike because of the interruption in the supply. The produce report I got earlier this week indicated supplies were decent on broccoli, but quality was poor which may account for the price fluctuations you saw.

                                                  Eggs typically spike pretty drastically around the holidays and then return to more normal levels by mid to late January.

                                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                                    Yes. It makes me crazy when they do that. In Chicago sweet potatoes are usually around $1 a pound, but the week before Thanksgiving suddenly they're 18 cents a pound. Is it that they can really afford to sell them for 18 cents and they're just ripping us off the rest of the time?

                                                    1. re: Querencia

                                                      Or is it that they buy a whole lot and get a really good price?

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        Or is it a loss leader to get you into the store?

                                                        1. re: mlgb

                                                          Seasonality plays a role - when supply is up, prices are down. Quantity buying is also an issue. It's cheaper to buy by the truckload than by the piece. But generally speaking, grocery margins are pretty thin. And around the holidays, loss leaders are king.

                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                            And often, loss leaders truly are being sold for less than the stores' cost. When I can buy Ben & Jerry's for $3.79, buy one & get one free, I load up. I'm in FL, my brother is 20 miles from the B&J facility in VT and he never gets that price. Other items that are often a great buy are mayo, bacon and sausage, English muffins, frozen bagels, Cabot cheese, canned soups, butter.

                                                          2. re: mlgb

                                                            Yes!

                                                            "Bargain prices" are often loss leaders of items that vendors are able to buy at a relatively lower price.

                                                            Other prices are brought up and the "loss leader" gets shoppers into stores.

                                                            1. re: postemotional1

                                                              They're called loss leaders because they lose money on that item, or sell at cost at best, it's not just a relatively lower price. If you follow the wholesale market, you'll know when to buy! Similar to watching the stock market but with less risk involved.

                                                  2. re: Caroline1

                                                    A lot of eating is recreational.

                                                    We are fat folks.

                                                    The paradigm you use is very outdated.

                                                    It applies to a subsistence level life.

                                                    If you have enough interest and life experience to post on CHOWHOUND it is exceedingly unlikely that is your way of life.

                                                    1. re: postemotional1

                                                      $100/month groceries buys me fancy pants basmati at much less than a dollar a pound.

                                                      1. re: postemotional1

                                                        I did not say it was my way of life. I did say that it is the way of life of many many many Americans today. We are not out of the woods yet on the financial havoc that befell us. There are LOTS of people who live by that paradigm, thank you very much. And heaven help them!

                                                        One of the major problems in this country is that we, collectively and including the whooooooooole country, do NOT learn from experience. We bitch and moan and swear we are going to do better, but when the crisis has passed, we regress into our old ways with great joy and no thought for tomorrow. I'll use someone I love very much -- I'm her mother! -- as a typical example of American thinking. When gas prices went up to about four dollars a gallon, she got teed off one night after filling the tank on her giant biggest one Ford makes SUV over having the tab run way over a hundred bucks. The next morning (with a full tank of fuel in the monster) she traded it in and got herself a much smaller Lexus hybrid that ran on both gasoline and electricity. Gas prices came down. Last month she traded in her Lexus for another giant monster gas guzzling Ford "King Ranch" monster SUV with two video screens for rear passengers and that drinks gasoline like there is no tomorrow. And now gasoline prices are going up again. My daughter is VERY American! Typical!

                                                        It happens with all of the neccessities of life including food, housing, transportation, the whole nine yards. Americans have the attention span of a gnat and the learning curve of bubble gum. But that's the way it is.

                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                          I find this story amusing, yet somewhat horrifying. But as you said typical. But it did make me chuckle! BTW they (government, car companies) did speak of making those monsters hybrids starting 7 years ago. i wonder what happened?

                                                          And even though I've a job now after a year of unemployment, I'm still frugal. And yes, groceries have been and continue to be a big factor in my budget. Yes i can afford more now, but I still must be very careful. I've no dollar for dollar prices on items, but I do know I'm spending more now that I was two years ago. Before the crisis, and before I lost my job. And I'm having to be a lot more frugal now than I was then. And I know this because my bank's charts about what I am spending where and how hasn't changed; just how much I am spending. Pie charts don't lie!

                                                          Now the learning curve of bubble gum is also something i know of, but that has to do with Energy Conservation Engineering, which is completely OT. Except if you consider cow farts ;)

                                                          EDIT: I mean no offense to your offspring or you

                                                          1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                            LOL! I took no offense at anything you wrote. I know when my daughter does dumb things. I only wish she did!

                                                            Well, I wish she knew sooner rather than later. Now that gas prices are climbing again, I haven't asked her how she likes her new SUV. That would be rubbing salt in the wound. Not that I'm entirely above that sort of thing. '-)

                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                              Now that gas prices are climbing again, I haven't asked her how she likes her new SUV. That would be rubbing salt in the wound. Not that I'm entirely above that sort of thing. '-)
                                                              ~~~~~~~~~~~
                                                              ha! my sister is in the market for a new SUV, and if she doesn't get a hybrid i may have a rather difficult time keeping my mouth shut :)

                                                      2. re: Caroline1

                                                        if everybody refused to buy iceberg, the price would plummet. it's both. during the depression, chocolate was dirt cheap, and houses were blasted expensive.

                                                    2. re: DiningDiva

                                                      Sure, but that's not what you said above: "Many, if not most (and probably almost all) truckers and warehousemen are also union employees with union wages and attractive benefit plans."

                                                      Generally good idea to check statistics against one's first impressions and personal experiences, especially when one is drawing conclusions about correlations between food prices and insurance costs. That's why I went to the BLS after reading your post. It struck me odd, but I wasn't sure my impressions were indicative of industry trends. So, I double checked before posting.

                                                  3. re: DiningDiva

                                                    and fertilizer is a petroproduct!

                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                      Produce prices at national grocery chains are through the roof. I shop at an independently owned alternative chain that locates only in the "hood" neighborhoods, and I assume their employees are nonunion. Most of the produce isn't organic, piled in attractive pyramids, and I can't find baby sized squashes (although in season I can get squash blossoms) and I have to bag my own. However it is of amazingly good quality and low prices:

                                                      In the last two weeks I've paid

                                                      Cukes $1 for 8 pc
                                                      Tomatoes $1 for 2 or 3#
                                                      Small avocados $1 for 5 pc
                                                      Cabbage $1 for 8#
                                                      Apples $1 for 2-3#
                                                      Lemons $1 for 7pc
                                                      Tomatillos $1 for 2#
                                                      Winter squash (kabocha and butternut) $1 for 3#
                                                      Zucchini $1 for 2#
                                                      Oniions $1 for 6#
                                                      Serrano peppers $1 for 2#

                                                      They also make the best tortilla chips around.

                                                      http://www.superiorgrocers.com/Ad1/ta...

                                                    2. Okay, after reading all the posts by people claiming that the world is coming to an end I went out and found actual numbers for food prices. According to the USDA, food prices are expected to rise 2-3% in 2011. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/usda...

                                                      Of course there are those who will insist that the gummint doesn't know what it's talking about and that the sky really is falling. Me? I'm not holding my breath.

                                                      11 Replies
                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                        That's really only half the story.

                                                        Have to know whether there will be a similar percentage increase in wages to put food inflation numbers into perspective. Without one, the other is essentially meaningless.

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                          I believe wage increases are vanishingly unlikely, and therefore assume that the real cost of food will increase. My point was that the increase will likely be minimal or moderate, and that there's no basis for claims that we're seeing the first signs of hyperinflation.

                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                            Don't the discount the possibility that real wages are actually decreasing, thus making a 1 or 2 percent increase in food prices much greater than their absolute numbers may show.

                                                            That said, like you, I do not believe there are uncontrolled spiraling food prices, at least not in the short or medium term. And no one is prescient enough to make long term, accurate, bets on food prices. Even industries that are notorious hedgers (e.g. cruise, chain restaurants, etc.) do not get it right all the time.

                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                              Well, at least they aren't shilling gold investment, alanbarnes. One can't eat gold.

                                                          2. re: alanbarnes

                                                            and what about dollar value? silver's way, way up. and that's NOT the "chicken little" metal.

                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                              I am not anti-government one bit but when I go to store and see that the same five pounds of flour that last year cost $1.79 now costs $3.59 and the same box of oatmeal that last year cost 99 cents now costs $2.39, and the USDA predicts that food costs are going to rise 2-3% in the coming year, I have to assume either that USDA folks are lousy at math or that they mean 2-3% on top of the 100-150% that prices have already risen in the PAST year. Also I keep reading that food costs are not calculated in the national inflation figures.

                                                              1. re: Querencia

                                                                The claim that food prices have increased 100-150% in the last year is absolutely and demonstrably false. What prices will do in the future is a matter of opinion, but what they've done in the past is a matter of fact. And the fact is that food prices went up 1.8% in 2009 and about 1.5% (final numbers aren't in yet) in 2010. http://www.ers.usda.gov/briefing/cpif...

                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                  I figure McDonalds keeps their eye on food prices, and just saw this http://www.optimum.net/Finance/AP/Art...
                                                                  for what it's worth.

                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                    That seems consistent with the outlook offered by most mainstream economists. McDonald's is estimating a 2 to 2.5% rise in food costs in the US in 2011 - the low end of the 2-3% range I mentioned above.

                                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                      That's what I thought too, McDonalds knows what they're doing to say the least. Just looked over my grocery flyer for next week and was thinking how much more all the meat is compared to this time last year. I do see country ribs for 99 cents but everything seems to be $3.99 and up...and this is my cheapie store! Guess we'll get used to it.

                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                        I saw a report this morning that food prices are trending at 1.5X overall inflation, and with the inflation indicator as of Jan. 21 at 1.39, the food inflation rate is presently at 2.1%. It surprised me a bit, but we all tend to remember abrupt increases and overlook what stays unchanged or goes down.

                                                              2. Can anyone explain why the price of Best Foods (Hellmans) mayonnaise has gone from 2 to three dollars, to 5 to 6 dollars? To make matters worse, it isn't even 32oz anymore, but 30 oz. This is an almost hundred percent price increase. What's up? Is mayonnaise becoming an endangered species?

                                                                12 Replies
                                                                1. re: dratlover

                                                                  Generation X was born between 68-76 and favored a svelte physique.

                                                                  Generation Y was born between 77-86 and favor a rounded physique.

                                                                  Gen X drank Diet Coke.

                                                                  Gen Y drinks Coke.

                                                                  A new generation is rejecting the taste of the previous wave.

                                                                  It's called capitalism.

                                                                  1. re: postemotional1

                                                                    Those are some pretty sweeping generalizations, aren't they? Any data to back them up?

                                                                    1. re: postemotional1

                                                                      Even if those assertions are true (which I doubt), what possible relationship do they have to the price of mayonnaise?

                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                        Mayo is fashionable.

                                                                        1. re: postemotional1

                                                                          Well that clears it up.

                                                                          1. re: postemotional1

                                                                            Well, that'd be great if it were true. But contrary to your assertion above, diet soft drink sales have been consistently increasing their market share compared to regular soft drinks total market since at least 1980. Average BMI is higher for Gen X than Gen Y. And apparently condiment sales - including ketchup, mustard, and mayo - have been stagnant in the US for the last decade.

                                                                      2. re: dratlover

                                                                        When the price of oils went up a few years ago, Hellmanns raised their prices outrageously above and beyond. They assumed everybody would pay anything they charged, as in the past, and this seemed like a good opportunity to set new sky high price levels. Unfortunately for them, wholesale buyers (especially places that buy 100 gallons a week like a deli), for the first time in recorded history a majority of them switched to other brands of mayo that it turned out, were almost as good and half the price of Hellmanns. Hellmanns is the best but there is a tipping point, and since this happening when the economy was collapsing, they lost that bet. After they realized what they had done, they lowered their price by 25% with another 20% of rebates after that, and they did get most of their restaurant business back after losing mega money due to lost sales for a year or so. Obviously they're not losing money with these new low prices. On the other hand, for us regular people, if you just buy a quart... I mean 30 z.... every few weeks for home you'll just suck it up, and probably still buy the exact same amount as always. Due to total arrogance on their part they lost a lot of money overall though, and trying to make it up where they can I guess. I stock up in the summer when it's on sale for $1.99 (and if you find a 40z "bonus" jar whoopie!) I still have enough in the garage to last me til Memorial Day...I hope!

                                                                        1. re: coll

                                                                          Bingo!

                                                                          You are smart.

                                                                          The 'tipping point" is your best point.

                                                                          I love your logic!

                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                            Actually, Dukes is the best mayo.

                                                                            1. re: jla1960

                                                                              Not in the New York market! If they were smart, they would have jumped at the chance and came in at half price like everyone else. Instead Cains from New England make quite a killing. But in the end, Hellmanns is king around here.

                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                Well, Hellmann's may be king in terms of sales, but Dukes is still better. :)

                                                                              2. re: jla1960

                                                                                Correct. Dukes smashes Hellmans in terms of tastiness and power over me.

                                                                          2. Meat has definitely increased in price. And anyone notice the bones have disappeared? I think the grocer is selling them for feed supply--unless they are getting them from the supplier like that. I note that some bone in pork chops are reappearing recently. But meat is really more expensive all the time. We eat less and less as a consequence. I blame ethanol. Corn is being grown for fuel instead for the feedlot. And for us on a budget, buying grass fed is not financially feasible.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                                                              Grocers don't buy most meat on the bone, they buy it already butchered into subprimals which rarely involve bone. Remember the days of the whole carcass hanging there? It cost too much to ship all that extra weight that just got thrown out anyway. The slaughter houses separate meat from bone and they are the ones selling the bones for feed, especially for pet food (and that's where your glucosamine and chondroiton come from which a lot of pet owners look for) and also the chew bones you buy at Petco. Lots of money there, and put to good use. But also I think part of it is many people don't know what to do with bone-in meat anymore, so less demand. I prefer bone in meat and find that on sale more than filets, so there's the upside. All the frugal older people are snatching it up!

                                                                            2. They are, and my ranking of the underlying causes is:
                                                                              1) global population of 7 billion is exerting tremendous pressure on food commodity supplies.
                                                                              2) oil over $80/ bbl adds considerable cost to fertilizer and transportation
                                                                              3) the emerging chinese middle class is huge, and wants to eat better. They want more meat. 35% of soybeans grown in the US are sold to China for animal feed.
                                                                              4) Poor weather-related harvests will always occur around the world. Wheat in Russia, corn in Mexico, sugar in Cuba are recent (within 2 years) examples. Recovery lags by a year or two.
                                                                              5)Commodity speculation magnifies imbalances and leads to hoarding and irrational pricing.
                                                                              6)Numerous countries can no longer afford to provide traditional food commodity subsidies - examples are corn, wheat, and rice through Mercal in Venezuela, maize in Mexico, flour and cooking oil in Iran.
                                                                              7) Productivity - a mixed bag. Brazil is enjoying the best agricultural productivity in the world. South African productivity has fallen 40% since the large farms were confiscated.
                                                                              8)Political instability slams the door on productivity - Venezuela, Kenya, South Africa

                                                                              just my musings...and I don't think the US government representations of food price inflation are accurate.

                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                                I just think people in China are now hungrier.

                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                  ;)

                                                                                2. re: Veggo

                                                                                  Veggo, I think the U.S. inflation number in the next 24 months will shock all concerned. Food, oil based products, cotton, metals, are all up sharply already. I guess we will need to get our bay boats ready to net those mullet!!!!!

                                                                                  1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                    Deal me in. As much as I enjoy the soulful smoked mullet at C&K Smokehouse in Parrish and at Star Fish in Cortez, I would like to do my own. And just when I fell out of love with the Bell family in Cortez (who own Star) for several fish disasters in a row, I read today they are torpedoing the Cortez Fish Festival next month over a political appointment. Nasty.
                                                                                    I wish you would e-mail me.

                                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                                      veggo, I hope A.P does not get any worse; plan on checking what they have next week, just when the Recreational Grouper season closes.
                                                                                      e-mail....Address?????

                                                                                      1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                        vfl12@earthlink.net, on my profile. We should meet for lunch at Star.

                                                                                3. just move along. nothing to see here:

                                                                                  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001...

                                                                                  1. keep moving along, nothing to see here:

                                                                                    http://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/...

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: justanotherpenguin

                                                                                      According to the graphic in that article, food prices are now as right about where they were in the middle of 2008. Wasn't that the year that Des Moines erupted in riots over food costs? The year of bread lines in Albuquerque? The year that thousands starved on the streets of Manhattan?

                                                                                      What, no? Food costs in 2008 didn't bring about the end of the world as we know it? But so many crackpots - er, experts - were claiming that it would! Surely they've learned their lessons and laid off the apocalyptic rhetoric by now. Right?

                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                        "Wasn't that the year that Des Moines erupted in riots over food costs? The year of bread lines in Albuquerque? The year that thousands starved on the streets of Manhattan?"

                                                                                        No, but there were riots in several other countries where the people were poorer--probably helps to take a global perspective.

                                                                                    2. Went to A.P. Bell,Cortez, Fl yesterday just as a commercial longline boat was unloading we pulled some"Yellow-Edge" Grouper averaging about 15 lbs. each!!
                                                                                      The price was $6.50/lb Whole, but gutted. With a yield of 45-48% that figures out to about $14.00-15.00/lb. Not considering your time to filet large fish. These fish were large enough to cut out the cheeks and throats, a somewhat time consuming process. Prices are going back up after a very bad 2010, Gulf oil spill, and I know that not much Yellow-Edge gets to the market, But Gag and Black Grouper prices were up too.
                                                                                      The reason Yellow-edge is more than other grouper is it is a very deep water fish; caught at a depth of 500 ft or more.
                                                                                      In general, all prices are up over last year. There was a packing line for Black Mullet Roe, all of that commands a high price as it is exported to Japan, (dried and formed into cakes). I think prices will continue to climb at the wholesale level as diesel fuel is going up in price for the boats as well as inland truck transportation.
                                                                                      Veggo, Star Fish was a zoo, 1-1/2 hours to get your "Box", it was not S.Fs fault they were just slammed, Lots of out of state tags!!!

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                        again, I wish you would e-mail me and I'll join you for lunch there.
                                                                                        VFL12@earthlink.net

                                                                                      2. From this past Sunday's Wall Street Journal

                                                                                        http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001...

                                                                                        1. Haven't you heard? There's no inflation in America.
                                                                                          Nothing to be concerned about- it's all in our imagination.

                                                                                          1. i'm still planning to revisit this thread in jan12, in the meantime:

                                                                                            http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Kraft-s...

                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: justanotherpenguin

                                                                                              Try this article - http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41481344/...

                                                                                              This is the message I got from my produce company this past Tuesday (2/8

                                                                                              )

                                                                                              OLD MAN WINTER HURT LETTUCE, BROCCOLI AND
                                                                                              CAULIFLOWER CROPS IN YUMA AND THE CALIFORNIA DESERT.
                                                                                              FLORIDA WAS HIT IN DECEMBER. NOW, HE’S TAKING HIS
                                                                                              FREEZING TEMPERATURES INTO MEXICO. THERE HAS BEEN
                                                                                              A MAJOR FREEZE IN A CROSS SECTION OF THE MEXICAN
                                                                                              GROWING AREAS.
                                                                                              THE EXTREME FREEZING TEMPERATURES HIT A VERY BROAD
                                                                                              SECTION OF MAJOR GROWING REGIONS IN MEXICO, FROM
                                                                                              HERMOSILLO IN THE NORTH ALL THE WAY SOUTH TO LOS
                                                                                              MOCHIS AND EVEN SOUTH OF CULIACAN. THE EARLY REPORTS
                                                                                              ARE STILL COMING IN BUT MOST ARE SHOWING LOSSES OF
                                                                                              CROPS IN THE RANGE OF 80 TO 100%. EVEN SHADE HOUSE
                                                                                              PRODUCT WAS HIT BY THE EXTREMELY COLD TEMPS. IT WILL
                                                                                              TAKE 7-10 DAYS TO HAVE A CLEARER PICTURE FROM GROWERS
                                                                                              AND FIELD SUPERVISORS, BUT THESE GROWING REGIONS
                                                                                              HAVEN’T HAD COLD LIKE THIS IN OVER A HALF CENTURY. THIS
                                                                                              TIME OF YEAR, MEXICO SUPPLIES A SIGNIFICANT PERCENT OF
                                                                                              NORTH AMERICA’S ROW CROP VEGETABLES SUCH AS: GREEN
                                                                                              BEANS, EGGPLANT, CUCUMBERS, SQUASH, PEPPERS,
                                                                                              ASPARAGUS, AND ROUND AND ROMA TOMATOES.
                                                                                              FLORIDA NORMALLY IS A MAJOR SUPPLIER FOR THESE ITEMS
                                                                                              AS WELL BUT THEY HAVE ALREADY BEEN STRUCK WITH SEVERE
                                                                                              FREEZE DAMAGE IN DECEMBER AND JANUARY AND UP UNTIL
                                                                                              NOW HAVE HAD TO PURCHASE PRODUCT OUT OF MEXICO TO
                                                                                              FILL THEIR COMMITMENTS, THAT IS NO LONGER AN OPTION.
                                                                                              WITH THE SERIES OF WEATHER DISASTERS THAT HAS
                                                                                              OCCURRED IN BOTH OF THESE MAJOR GROWING AREAS WE
                                                                                              WILL EXPERIENCE, IMMEDIATE VOLATILITY PRICES, EXPECTED
                                                                                              LIMITED AVAILABLITITY, AND MEDIOCRE QUALITY AT BEST. THIS
                                                                                              WILL NOT ONLY HAVE AN IMMEDIATE IMPACT ON SUPPLIES,
                                                                                              BUT BECAUSE OF VERY STRONG BLOSSOM DROP, THIS
                                                                                              WILL ALSO IMPACT SUPPLIES 30 – 60 DAYS FROM NOW.
                                                                                              SOME GROWERS ARE MEETING WITH THEIR BOARDS RIGHT
                                                                                              NOW TO DETERMINE WHETHER THEY SHOULD IMMEDIATELY
                                                                                              RE-PLANT, HOPING FOR A HARVEST BY LATE-MARCH-TO-EARLYAPRIL,
                                                                                              OR WHETHER THEY SHOULD DISC THE FIELDS UNDER
                                                                                              AND WAIT FOR ANOTHER SEASON

                                                                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                Guess I should go stock up on produce.

                                                                                                1. re: mlgb

                                                                                                  Or visit your local farmers market if you happen to live in an area with year-round markets. If your local area has not been affected by the winter weather, then chances are some of the vendors in the farmers markets in yoru area are going to have produce.

                                                                                                  Certainly commercial distribution of produce has -or at least will - taken a hit and that impact will probably be felt fairly shortly.

                                                                                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                    "Or visit your local farmers market"

                                                                                                    TRUE that!!! Organic Romaine hearts were $5.09 this week at Publix, used to be $2.99...at the FM, $2.00 for a head of organic romaine, not just the hearts.

                                                                                              2. re: justanotherpenguin

                                                                                                may not have to wait until jan12:

                                                                                                http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Wholesa...

                                                                                                1. re: justanotherpenguin

                                                                                                  gee, whod'athunk?

                                                                                                  http://www.cnbc.com/id/42130406

                                                                                                2. I didn't see this mentioned in the above threads, so I'll throw this in.

                                                                                                  This is what happens when you take food and turn it into fuel, I'm talking about ethanol here, made from corn in the US. You can thank your government for requirements that gas at the pump is going to have to contain 15% ethanol. When you take farm land and grow fuel on it, that land is no longer producing food, not just food for you and me, but for the cows, pigs, chickens, etc. that are part of the food chain. Most US beef is corn fed prior to slaughter, the price of corn has risen considerably, because there isn't enough corn for both food and fuel. Ethanol form corn is in many cases energy negative, that is, it takes more energy to make the ethanol than can be derived from it. Ultamately, this makes the cost of food go up and the cost of fuel go up, which in turn makes the cost of food go up even more, as it now costs more to get the food to market.

                                                                                                  But, there are some very, very happy corn farmers out there!

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: mikie

                                                                                                    yep. damn corn farmers ;)

                                                                                                    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Higher-...

                                                                                                  2. As others upthread have said
                                                                                                    it's the role cost of energy
                                                                                                    just now we are coming to recognize.

                                                                                                    Interleaved with the dumptor of caveat emptor
                                                                                                    of shoppers who don't know their prices.

                                                                                                    Transport, refridging, and total deep freezing
                                                                                                    costs of natural gas fertilizer, harvesting fuel
                                                                                                    have led us to precipice so long ignored.

                                                                                                    Reckoning now descending, it's simply upon us.

                                                                                                    When First Lady Obama tried by example to share with us gift of the garden,
                                                                                                    her efforts were sprayed and dismissed with each turn of her spade.

                                                                                                    Getting real real about soil's appeal
                                                                                                    And the chest thump of growing a Victory Garden
                                                                                                    For me far outweighs those two weekend days
                                                                                                    when lawnmowers rather than tillers shape our food song.

                                                                                                    Only one increment in recovery instrument
                                                                                                    but we've gotta get back up to where we belong.

                                                                                                    1. wife and i went shopping at a "winco" a few days ago. their claim to fame is that they sell a lot of stuff in bulk, don't take credit cards and give shoppers a small credit for using cloth (reusable) bags. we thought that many prices were up. wife had a receipt from a month ago and started comparing. without going into great detail, a significant number of the same items were up from 15-30%.

                                                                                                      in the meantime, came across this article on how the govt has changed it's method of inflation calculation. this explains a lot:

                                                                                                      http://www.cnbc.com/id/42551209

                                                                                                      still plan to revisit this thread in jan12.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: justanotherpenguin

                                                                                                        I'm in the food/grocery business. Its is going to get worse.

                                                                                                        1. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                                                                          And I'm in the non-commerical food service industry and concur, food prices are not done going up

                                                                                                      2. New article from MSNBC on consumer price increases, what's going up and what's expected to go up. Unfortunately, they're saying no relief is in sight :-(

                                                                                                        http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42612638/...

                                                                                                        1. For those interested in looking past claims of natural reasons for shortages, "Main Basse Sur le Riz" is an interesting film. It's also a film for people who speak and understand French, I'm afraid, although I believe there's an English language version out there.

                                                                                                          http://www.artevod.com/main_basse_sur...

                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                            http://translate.google.com/translate...

                                                                                                            Link will take you to an English version of the film

                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                              FYI Google Translate does not so much "take" a person to the English-lnguage version of the film as it will provide a (rough) translation of the page.

                                                                                                              1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                No, no Lizard. That particular website will link you to the English ver. of the film. I just translated the page in English to make it a bit easier; using Google quickly.

                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                  Sorry, HillJ, but I still don't follow. Perhaps you could just provide the link itself. This FIPA competition page lists the producers and distributors (always nice for people to see, so thanks) but apart from providing a list of all films in this festival, I cannot find this link you mention.
                                                                                                                  But it is nice that you've offered google translate as a means for people to see a bit more about the film! These discussions of global food markets and subsidies make important interventions into the sad assumptions many in the Global North hold that famine and poverty result from natural causes/lack of knowledge/civil unrest alone.
                                                                                                                  And another link, not in French
                                                                                                                  http://www.english.rfi.fr/africa/2010...

                                                                                                                  1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                    http://www.arte.tv/fr/Comprendre-le-m...

                                                                                                                    I was able to translate these clips.

                                                                                                                    Does this work for you, using translate? http://www.youtube.com/results?search...

                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                      OK, I'm a bit confused by what your aiming to accomplish. Are you trying to help me translate, or provide other hounds with options to translate>? If the former, thanks, but I don't need it, I can manage without the help. If the latter, the link didn't seem to provide anything for the anglophones here.

                                                                                                                      To my knowledge, there is no official English-language version of this film that has been released ("English language version" does not refer to anything one can get google translate to hack at, actually). The DVD may actually have English subtitles, although I can't check as I've lent it out. You mentioned a link to an English language version in an earlier message. If it exists, why not post that link for the help of those wishing to source an English language version (although the youtube clips have value, as does this extract from the Arte release, and at Amazon.fr you can buy the DVD).

                                                                                                                      That said, as you are so eagerly posting these clips, am I to understand you've seen the film? What are your thoughts?

                                                                                                                      1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                        Confused or frustrated.. and mind you it wasn't my intent to do either. I was referring to the films video clips avail on Google & YouTube and translated in English by subtitle. The DVD does offer translation options. I already recognize YOU didn't need translation but since you mentioned the film I was trying to offer English options. My bad.

                                                                                                          2. I guess it's all relative. I've been noticing higher prices at the market as well & I've been complaining about it. But my family just returned from a trip to the Cayman Islands where we did some grocery shopping our first day there. For just some fruit, water, cereal, eggs, milk, juice, a bag of chips, tonic, granola bars, a package of bacon and some TP, the bill was $118 U.S. dollars.

                                                                                                            I went to the gorcery store here in NJ the day we returned and for $137, I bought a wagon full of food, including organic milk, organic eggs, fruit, lettuce, potatoes, onions, a ham (which was highly discounted through a frequent shopper program) some good quality cheese, dried sausage, crackers, olives, pickles, cookies, ice cream, some cold cuts, bread, and a bunch of other stuff. It looked like a screaming bargain after our experience buying food in Grand Cayman.

                                                                                                            Oh yeah, and gas was over $5 Cayman dollars a gallon.

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                              Flourgirl, today I saw gas in Chicago for 4.95.9. We're almost there. Meanwhile I also saw common yellow onions @ 3 lb bag for $3.79.

                                                                                                              1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                Yikes, is that for regular? We're still at about $3.75 a gallon here in Flemington.

                                                                                                            2. The price increases are due to higher demand Over a billion people in China are eating Chinese food ... and an hour later they're hungry again.

                                                                                                              But seriously, now that we've exported our jobs overseas, the Chinese, Indians (with a billion people in each country) can afford a richer diet.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: Rmis32

                                                                                                                It's really the dramatic increase in the price of oil more than anything else. Food these days means transportation, and an oil based transport system leaves the price of food at the mercy of the price of gas.

                                                                                                                That along with the massive (and unnecessary) subsidies for ethanol have hit grain and meat prices in the US and overseas.