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Price of food increasing?

  • r

Yesterday I shopped at my local chain market and noticed that lemons were 89 cents EACH!!
I noticed that the limes were $79 cents EACH!!
Apples were $3 per pound!
This market certainly no Whole Foods nor Wegmans chain (considered upscale), but a regular chain supermarket.

A few weeks ago I tried to buy lemons at Costco and I watched a woman who was purchasing lemons for her restaurant go through every box that was on the pallet and there were no sacks of lemons that did not have mold on some of the lemons.

However a few days later I was able to buy some at another Costco store (Chilean).

At another local store (a chain) I bought limes 8 for $1 - quite a difference between 1 for 79 cents and 12 cents.

Other than peanuts, which will be increasing quite a bit, what else have you noticed that are totally priced out of sight?

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  1. Has nothing to do with being upscale of not but chain grocery produce - when not on sale - is always priced unrealistically high (given the quality). At both the major chains in Chicago (Jewel and Dominick's - Safeway and Albertson's-owned) lemons have been near $1 for a few years. Limes are not much cheaper. We have a produce market near our house where limes are generally 8-10 for $1. A tad smaller, maybe (and really just a tad), but every bit as good in quality.

    1. Yeah, it does seem that the prices of fresh produce have been becoming ridiculous this year.

      The price of limes in particular shot up dramatically just a few months ago.
      They had been 10 for a dollar at several local markets for weeks. Then all of a sudden, the price jumped to about 40 cents each.
      Lemons have been at high prices for more than a year (I think it was the cold weather that damaged lemon trees). Still, the prices of lemons seem to also have risen in the past two to three months.

      I've been watching these prices because I've been making a lot of ceviche this year.

      Incidentally, oranges have also been surprisingly expensive this year.

      2 Replies
      1. re: racer x

        Yes, at the same store, the little, teensy Florida (I think) oranges were "special" priced at $1 each.

        1. re: racer x

          bell peppers used to be 3/$1 or even 5/$1. this year cheapest was 2/$1 and i just got what i thought was a great deal $.69 each. i never did see eggplant on sale this year. if i make it down to seattle asian market prices are better. though i did see a can of abalone, i think it was almost $50!

        2. Green peppers and radishes. We eat several green peppers every week, and they are now a buck apiece. I bought a package at Aldi's (discount grocer) at substantially less, and they weren't very fresh. I threw one away, and used the others for cooking.

          I like radishes now that I'm low carbing it , and I got used to reasonably priced bunches in the spring and summer. I don't buy those anymore. I did buy a pack though, and they have turned out well.

          Cherry tomatoes have gone up too, even though there are more brands to choose from. I have the same observation about apples as you. Instead of 99 cents to $1.29 a lb. they are $2,99 a lb or thereabouts.

          I notice that chicken is more expensive. I've been buying meat or poultry only on special. If there isn't anything on special, I'm not buying.

          4 Replies
          1. re: sueatmo

            I was at Sams Club last week and nearly fell over when I saw a 6 pack of green peppers for $6. Since when? During the summer the "no thanks" box at our CSA drop off always had green peppers that no one wanted.

              1. re: mtoo

                Wow, wish I could send you my green peppers, stll on the vine. I always have way more than I need and just beg friends to take 'em! (Maybe a roadside stand...75 cents each??)

                1. re: pine time

                  I've actually got a bunch. We just pulled our plants. We were overrun with them this summer and so were all of our friends who planted them this year. That's why I found the price so odd. We couldn't give them away this year.

            1. I've been really struck by the higher price of all lamb cuts this last year or so at my preferred supermarket.

              It seems that beef and pork and poultry have not been marked up to anything like the same degree.

              It could just be that too few people buy lamb here (it's almost exotic in the upper midwest), so whoever actually buys that $75 leg of lamb will cover the costs for what the store cannot sell at all? Or is lamb just higher at wholesale now?

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bada Bing

                At least in my area, wholesale prices for lamb have increased astronomically. Several local producers have shut down, and those that are left are charging through the nose. Maybe demand is down, and they feel like they have to grab every dollar they can squeeze out.

                Wholesale meat prices in general have been increasing rapidly. Whenever corn prices and fuel costs jump, beef and pork follow right along. I feel really bad about having to raise prices at my retail location just when people are really needing to save money, but it's been an unfortunate necessity lately.

              2. As for high prices, everything has gone up noticeably over the past couple of years, it seems to me but limes have always bounced around a lot, judging by same-store price variations. I have no idea why! Lemons are slightly volatile, but not like limes where even the "cheap" (10/$1) places sometimes drop to 4 or 5/$1 for no obvious reason like a cold snap or drought that would presumably affect other produce. Scallion prices seem to jump around a lot, too. What's so odd is they seem to jump around a lot more than other produce.

                1. Prices on "fresh" produce fluctuate based on whether they are in season or not. Lemons, limes and other citrus fruits grown in the U.S. are "in season" during our winter months, peaking in January. Some will be sold fresh during that time, but many will be put into cold storage so they can be shipped over a longer period of time. So, think about it---if you're buying lemons in November that were picked last January, what do you think has happened to the supply (and quality) in that time? You were able to find cheaper Chilean-grown produce because, since they are in the Southern Hemisphere, their seasons are opposite ours. Chilean lemons would have been picked in June or so, so the quality (and quantity) is higher than those picked in the U.S. 6 months earlier.
                  The best way to stretch your food dollars is to buy what is in season. Winter squashes (like acorn and butternut) should be cheap right now. Asparagus, on the other hand, will be quite expensive (if you can find it at all) until spring when it is available for harvest again.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: Anne

                    My local butternut squash at a farm was actually higher in price this week than the local supermarket on sale at $.99 a lb.

                    I bought it from the local farm because in season squashes at my local supermarket usually is not very tasty. Now, I don't know whether the butternut squash from my local super market is a squash that has been held over from another growing season in this or another hemisphere, but it is not very good, IMO. Though, I could be optimistic in my assessment and consider the price is low because there is an great supply of squash at this time of year.

                    I really am glad to pay the difference between the local farmer and the supermarket price, because for some reason that $.99 cents supermarket charge is for a food that I will not be able to eat.

                    I do consider the hemispheres' produce and their in-season markets/prices when I take into account the prices. Hopefully others do to; I have recently started shopping for produce at FoodMaxx and they mark their foods as to where they are produced, as does Costco and other supermarkets.

                    1. re: Rella

                      There are many factors that can make produce more (or less) tasty: the variety grown, the soil it's grown in, the weather conditions of the location it was grown in, how close to (or past) maturity the fruit/vegetable was picked, how far (and long) it had to travel to get to you. If you have access to produce from a local (whatever "local" means to you---down the road or within your state, etc) farmer, it will almost always be of better quality than what you can get at any supermarket. "Supermarket" varieties are generally chosen for their ease of getting them to the consumer (who can often be thousands of miles away). Tomatoes are the perfect example. Compare ANY tomato bought in a supermarket to one you buy in August at a Farmers' Market. The supermarket tomato will be uniformly red, with unbroken skin, and firm----and taste like wet sawdust. The Farmers' Market tomato will be bred for TASTE, even though it may be uneven in color and shape, and will probably bruise before you get it home.
                      BTW, it is now federal law that ALL produce be marked with country of origin.

                      1. re: Anne

                        Re: "ALL produce be marked with country of origin."

                        I have noticed lately that it sometimes marked, thusly:

                        Country of Origin: USA/Mexico.

                      2. re: Rella

                        I've bought 3 squashes this fall: a football shaped orange one, a sweet dumpling and a delicata. The Sweet Dumpling was a dud. No flavor. The other two were very flavorful. The Delicata was amazingly sweet. I'm not finding them particularly cheap. And they came in very late. I simply love these micro cooked and pureed in the food processor with a little flavored vinegar, milk and or cream, nutmeg, pepper.

                        You always want to buy things in season, but green peppers, spinach, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes are pretty much things I buy all year. Same as lettuce.

                        1. re: sueatmo

                          Squash can be deceptively expensive. That's one reason I want them good tasting. DH gets more bang for the buck by scraping out the seeds and roasting them.

                          Sometimes I wonder if taste and nourishment go hand-in-hand. Somehow I suspect it does.

                          So far, broccoli rabe has remained the same in price for about a year. As well, as leeks, which have been $2.99 a lb. for a couple of years - it depends how much stalk they decide to leave on :-))

                        2. re: Rella

                          FYI butternut squashes are one variety that taste best after a few months in storage. Flavor will peak around January 2012. The butternut you bought locally was probably harvested within a few weeks and hasn't had time to develop flavor yet. Note this is not true of all winter squashes, just butternut and a few others.

                          I would highly doubt a squash could be held over from one November to the next. Even in an awesome root cellar, food only lasts so long. I would think April or so if you have great storage conditions.

                          1. re: yellowstone

                            Yes, I'm aware of the storage with butternut squash. One time I went to visit an acquaintance who lived in a huge log cabin with a porch wrapped around, and everywhere you looked there were butternut squash laying out to cure. (This was in Montana.)

                            The butternut squash I recently bought and prepared and posted as a cooked recipe in the local COTM "Gourmet" today was the best butternut squash I've ever had. Surely it had been stored? I don't have any idea when it would've/could've been picked here in Virginia. But if it hadn't been stored/cured, I don't know how much better it could have got. :-))

                        3. re: Anne

                          While it's true that produce prices fluctuate seasonally and that it's always prudent to try to focus on buying what's in season, prices have clearly been rising more generally -- and in some cases dramatically so.

                          The US Dept of Agriculture provides average prices for many different foods online, so this is something easy to check.

                          From my very rough calculations it looks like the average retail price for lemons (per each one) in the Southeast US in 2009, 2010, and 2011 were 44¢, 47¢, and 50¢. That’s a 6% increase in the past year and a 14% increase in the past 2 years.

                          For limes, the average prices for 2009, 2010, and 2011 were 34¢, 39¢, and 44¢. That’s a 13% increase in the past year and a 29% increase in the past 2 years.

                          And, looking to a different source, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (which produces the Consumer Price Indexes) reports that the seasonally-adjusted annual rate for citrus fruits had increased by 25% for the 6 months that ended in March 2011, although it was down 4% for the 6 months ending in September.
                          (see table 4, page 17 of the report, in the pdf file here: )

                        4. I used to get 5 avocados at costco for $5.99, the price has gone up about $1-$2 in the past 6 months. However I have noticed at H-Mart, I can get avocados, 2 for $1. I have also managed to find limes there for 5 for $1.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: bitsubeats

                            At the supermarket here in Winchester, VA, about the cheapest is $2 ea.

                            and then they are marked WOW!!! 2 for $4 (encouraging one to buy 2 of these!)

                            1. re: Rella

                              I went to Safeway today (in Baltimore) and I saw a head of iceberg lettuce being sold for $2.79 each.

                              I'd rather buy my groceries from the asian chain groceries. The quality is good and the prices are much better.

                              1. re: bitsubeats

                                nuts, except almonds, seem to have gone up about 1/3 in last year. cashews at costco now $15 for 2.5#. pecans walnuts mixed nuts similarly.

                                1. re: bitsubeats

                                  I agree re the 'asian chain stores.'
                                  Recently,Winchester, VA opened the FoodMaxx. From now on I will go to FoodMaxx first, Costco second, my Giant-affiliated supermarket third.

                                  Let's hope that FoodMaxx keeps up with the good produce (and much what many would call 'exotic' produce. I purchased no produce from either Costco nor the supermarket yesterday. My bought produce was considerable for about $9 which included 15 limes for $1 this time around. Let's see 15 limes x .80 ea at another store = $12 vs, $1.

                                  The store was buzzing with people.

                                  1. re: bitsubeats

                                    I get my shallots, various types of scallions, ginger, sometimes garlic, and a few greens at a local asian grocer. Much better prices and usually fresher.
                                    It's a bit of a drive though, so only make occasional trips there.

                                    Costco is even further, so a trip there is only for when other items (in bulk) in addition to produce are needed.

                                    For routine purchases of other produce, it's usually the local supermarkets first since they're so much closer.

                                    1. re: racer x

                                      I go once a week to shop. Everything is done on that particular day. 60 miles RT. We do have a supermarket about 15 miles RT and another about 20 miles RT, but I just don't go there, if you know what I mean - both are the same chain. And there is nowhere else to shop when you do get there, so it is wasted time, money.

                                    2. re: bitsubeats

                                      'I'd rather buy my groceries from the asian chain groceries. The quality is good and the prices are much better.'

                                      Good for you and I do the same, sometimes the price is 1/5 that of a Safeway. Unfortunately, much of N. America doesn't have the Asian chain or Asian Mom & Pop competition.

                                      1. re: rosetown

                                        I've wondered about all the profit mark-up on supermarket chain produce. I know its vulnerable, but really! I just can't understand the price difference.

                                        1. re: rosetown

                                          I agree if you can shop at the smaller stores it is better. Also your money is going into the local economy not some corporate giant who would quite happily kill off all the little stores.

                                          I am not sure about the states but here in the uk tesco is like a virus sucking the life out of communities.

                                          1. re: dryrain

                                            These Asian chain grocers ARE corporate giants (:

                                  2. The cost of food is increasing but its the supermarkets who are making more money not the producers that's the sad thing. They also increase prices to only decrease them later lauding there supreme efforts to give the customer the best value products.

                                    1. I never buy fresh produces at a local supermarket chain(especially the high end ones). I always shop at a local fruit market or at an asian market like H Mart. Price differences are amazing.

                                      1. Cream cheese!! Last year I could buy store brand cream cheese on sale for $1 per 8 oz
                                        but now the sale price is 2/$3 and Philly is well over $2 not on sale.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: poofty

                                          this week walgreens has its cream cheese on sale for $1.
                                          holiday season has best prices for baking needs. start looking for sales and deals.

                                          1. re: divadmas

                                            I saw that Walgreens sale...it was good BUT have you noticed they've pretty much DOUBLED their nut prices?? Their cashews (in house brand) used to be $3.99 for 8 or 9 ounce can...now they're $5.99!!! ugh...won't be buying them anymore.