Delish NOV 4, 2015 @ 4:23 PM
You might have to rethink your grocery list.
BY RHEANNA O’NEIL BELLOMO
Fall and winter are the quintessential cooking seasons. They’re prime for preparing whole roasts, baking cookies, and sipping hot cocoa. But this time of year puts a lot of our favorite foods in high demand just as they’re experiencing shortages, foodborned illness outbreaks, and more. According to the Consumer Price Index issued by the USDA and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are eight foods in particular that you should be wary of when it comes to price tags during your weekly grocery run.
Here’s the deal: Due to simple supply and demand, bacon is getting much pricier. The more we eat it—in ice cream, on pizza crust, for peanut-butter “bombs”—the more expensive it gets. Since April, the price has spiked by 174 percent. And it continues to climb. Hovering at an average price of $6, a pound of bacon could soon cost a whopping $10. The ironic part is that the bacon craze that’s causing all this was originally sparked because the crispy stuff was so readily available and affordable.
What you can do: Buy it in bulk when (or should we say if) it goes on sale and freeze it for later use.
Here’s the deal: Shorter than usual supplies are to blame here. In May, the worst avian flu outbreak in three decades hit egg production hard, shorting the country by 341 million dozens. And we continue to see the effects via price tags, which have risen from an average of $1.20 to $2.80. By year’s end, we could be coughing up nearly $6 for 12 eggs—especially if the flu returns this fall, when wild birds migrate and move to the Southeast.
What you can do: Not much. Maybe give egg substitutes a whirl once you can’t stand the sticker shock.
Here’s the deal: Holy cow, there has been an insane leap in the demand for butter—by 25 million pounds to be exact. (You can thank McDonald’s for a large portion of that.) Because of this surge, its price point has sky-rocketed to an average of $3.14 per pound.
What you can do: Opt for generic brands, which is typically priced below national and imported name brands. If you don’t mind margarine, the vegetable spread is a decent cheap alternative.
Here’s the deal: While red meat prices fell by a hair (0.6 percent) from August to September, the BLS reports that they’re still 2.3 percent higher than last year. Prices are also expected to rise an additional 5.5 to 6.5 percent by the end of the year. This is especially worrisome for those who buy grass-fed beef, which is healthier and therefore that much more expensive.
What you can do: Cut back on steak dinners and stretch ground beef by adding breadcrumbs to burgers, meatballs, and the like.
Here’s the deal: Avian flu is once again the culprit. The most recent outbreak destroyed nearly 50 million farm birds in 15 states. This means poultry production has been behind the ball this year and farmers are preparing for another onslaught of illness. On top of this, oven-roasted chicken is a go-to during colder months, upping demand at the same time that inventory is lower than usual.
What you can do: If you have the freezer space, stock up now before another outbreak arrives.
Here’s the deal: Poor California and its seemingly endless drought have seriously affected output on the vegetable front. Much of the country’s broccoli, almonds, spinach, strawberries, and avocados are grown in the Golden State. Because growing conditions have been far from ideal, there has been a longstanding price creep, with vegetables rising 1.8 percent from August to September. Overall, they’re up 3 percent from this time last year.
What you can do: Get to your local farmers market. Prices might still be a bit high, but you’ll be supporting local business and the price tags will stay put instead of continuously creeping like they will at the supermarket.
Here’s the deal: Like the pumpkin-spice latte, soup is one of those harbinger of the autumn season. As demand for the comfort food rises, so does its value. Over the last year, the price of prepared soup has increased by 1.1 percent and it will likely continue to creep up.
What you can do: Put your slow cooker to use and make your own fall soups.
Here’s the deal: An overstock of sugar has kept prices relatively low for sweets like chocolate. Now that the supply is leveling out, the going rate for sugar is up 3.2 percent from last year and the USDA predicts it will keep climbing by 2 or 4 percent through the end of the year. More specifically, cocoa has risen from $2.48 per kilogram in September 2014 to $3.27 in September 2015.
What you can do: Keep your eyes peeled for post-holiday chocolate sales.