Grocery prices have experienced their highest month-to-month jump since 1974 due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest Consumer Price Index from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Grocery increases averaged out to 2.6% more for April than for March. The steepest increases were for meat, poultry, fish and eggs, which collectively saw a 4.3% increase in April over March. Individually, eggs had the biggest jump, at 16.1%, although prices have gone back down again, due in large part to relaxation of federal regulations that allowed eggs to shift more easily from foodservice to retail distribution.
Meat not only saw an across-the-board increase but also a shortage of certain cuts. Ground beef saw one of the biggest increases, at 4.8% from March and 9.7% from April 2019. Beef roasts were up 5%, and steaks, 2.1%. Pork chops were up 7.4% and poultry, 5.8%.
“Right now, the system is having to flex in a way that we are just going to have to expect there's a limited, smaller number of items in the market while simultaneously the prices will increase,” Trey Malone, an agriculture economist at Michigan State University, told USA Today.
Other items facing high increases were apples, 4.9%; bread, 3.7%; and cookies, 5.1%.
On the other hand, the overall Consumer Price Index was down 0.8%, thanks to sharp drops in energy, transportation and other costs.