Many of us are feeling the sting of inflation at the grocery store as prices go up.
But there is one section of the grocery store where you may be feeling the pinch more. In April, the Consumer Price Index showed meat, poultry, fish, and eggs prices are up 14% from last year. The same category is up 24% since 2019.
Analysts say pinpointing why prices are so high in this category isn’t easy.
“The fallacy is trying to pinpoint it to one specific factor. I think instead there are a series of complicated intertwined factors that date back to the onset of the pandemic,” Senior Equity Research Analyst Arun Sundaram said.
Sundaram is an analyst with the investment research firm CFRA. He says price hikes stem from issues dating back to the start of the pandemic.
“Then we got hit with supply chain issues, labor constraint, labor shortages, meat packing is labor-intensive compared to other food production,” Sundaram said.
A recent boost in production could lower prices, according to Sundaram.
Responding to every consumer complaint
In the meantime, you may need to change your shopping habits to help cut down on your grocery bill. When you grocery shop, do you have your meals planned out? If not, it's a good idea to do it, according to money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. She says a family of four dumps $1,600 of fresh produce into the trash every year because it goes bad. That's just throwing away money, she said. But planning your meals can save you money instead.
"Begin by looking at your calendar," said Woroch. "What days are you going to be home? Do you have a work lunch, do you have a pizza party for your kid's soccer game? Make sure you plan for that and don't overbuy."
And when you plan those meals, Woroch suggests you pick recipes with similar ingredients, so you use up everything you buy.
"Let's say you buy a bag of potatoes — how often do you only use a few of those, and then the rest go to waste?" said Woroch.
And buying in bulk is tempting because it's cheaper. But Woroch says if you don't eat everything that you buy, it's just money down the drain.
"So really think about the family, the family size, what everybody eats," said Woroch. "Do you all eat the same foods? Try to limit what you buy in bulk."
Another trick up her sleeve: buying fresh food, like meat, close to its expiration date. She says markets usually slash the price.
"They may mark it down by 50%, maybe up to 70% off," said Woroch.
And before you head to the store, download the Flipp app. It tells you what deals you find at each grocery store.
But for some, going to the store means you overspend. If that's you, Woroch suggests shopping online instead.
"When you shop online, you can stick to that grocery list and there aren't any tempting food displays," she said.
To save on delivery fees, you can use a curbside pickup.
And finally, get savvy about the credit card you use to shop. Woroch says some offer 6% cashback on groceries, and you can find the best cards on sites like cardrates.com.