Rising Food Prices! 10 Things to Cross Off Your Grocery List

young couple looking at a grocery list

Couple looking at a grocery list | Source: iStock

Feeling the pinch at the grocery store? The items in your cart might be to blame. While overall food prices have dropped over the past year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the costs of certain items have jumped. And if you’re someone who loads up your shopping basket with bacon, fresh fruits and veggies, potato chips, and peanut butter, you’ve probably noticed the difference.

From March 2015 to March 2016, the consumer price index for food purchased at grocery stores fell 0.5%. (Prices for food at restaurants rose 2.7% over the same period.) Before the end of the year, supermarket food prices may increase 1% to 2%, the USDA predicts, below the average historical increase of 2.5%.

Of course, predicting how much you’ll have to spend on a pint of strawberries or a dozen eggs six months from now isn’t an exact science. A worsening drought in California could mean an increase in the cost of fruits and vegetables, the USDA notes, while falling oil prices could mean savings for consumers. A strong U.S. dollar might mean lower sales of U.S.-produced food to other countries, which could translate into savings for American shoppers.

For now, budget-conscious shoppers can take comfort in relatively stable food prices. In fact, since March 2015, the price of many grocery staples has actually fallen, in some cases significantly. A pound of ground chuck is 10% cheaper this year than last, bone-in ham is 14.5% cheaper per pound, and the price of a gallon of milk is 8% less than a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Prices for eggs and beef will continue to fall throughout 2016, the USDA predicts.

Nonetheless, the price of a handful of items has increased over the past year. Here are 10 items you may want to avoid if you’re trying to save money on groceries.

All data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

1. Strawberries

man paying for groceries

Man paying for groceries | Source: iStock

The price of a pint of strawberries has jumped 37 cents since March 2015, an increase of 22.1% percent. In March 2016, people paid an average of $2.03 for a pint of the sweet fruit, compared to $1.66 a year earlier.

2. Apples

Red delicious apples cost 16.4% more in March 2016 than a year earlier. A pound of the fruit sold for an average of $1.47, compared to $1.26 in March 2015.

3. Lemons

Lemon prices increased 15.2% over the last year, from $1.66 to $1.91 per pound.

4. Grapes

The price of a pound of Thompson seedless grapes increased 13.7% over the last year, from $2.65 to $3.02. But whatever you’re paying for grapes at the grocery store, it’s sure to be less than the $8,200 someone paid for a bunch of rare Japanese Ruby Roman grapes in 2015.

5. Tomatoes

The price of tomatoes dropped 16% between February and March of this year, from $2.32 to $1.94 per pound. Yet this staple ingredient was still more expensive than it was a year ago, when a pound of tomatoes cost an average of $1.82.

6. Rice

The price of long-grain white rice has increased 6.1% since March 2015, from an average of 67 cents to 71 cents a pound.

7. Potato chips

The average price of a 16-ounce bag of potato chips increased from $4.40 to $4.62 over the past year, a jump of 5%.

8. Peanut butter

A one-pound jar of creamy peanut butter cost 4.1% more in March 2016 compared to a year earlier, or an average of $2.72. Peanut butter prices jumped significantly between 2011 and 2012, and have remained higher since, according to the BLS.

9. Frozen orange juice

A can of frozen orange juice costs an average of 3% more this year than last.

10. Bacon

Bacon prices have increased 2.4% since last year. Our collective obsession with the cured meat is at least partly to blame. “It’s really demand that’s driving this,” Ryan Turner, a risk management consultant at FCStone Group, told Bloomberg last year when discussing the increase in pork belly prices. “People are putting bacon on anything.”

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