JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — You've heard the headlines: "America's Prices are Surging More Than Ever" or "Inflation Driving Up Food Costs."
But how much of a difference is it really in dollars and cents?
Yours truly, Meteorologist turned Investigative Reporter Lauren Rautenkranz, did a little experiment of my own -- comparing online grocery orders.
"For food inflation, this is the highest we’ve seen in quite a while," Bureau of Labor Statistics Economist Steve Reed said.
"We have six subcategories we call the major grocery store food groups and they’re all up over the past 12 months."
For this experiment, take an Instacart order from the same time last year. Open it up in the app and click "reorder." The same items will then be added to your cart. What's the subtotal now?
In this case, I did not include tax or tip, and honored the same sales.
For my order from November 2020 -- $125.29.
I ordered items like bread, pork, salmon, chicken, ice cream -- no judgements here! I was 8 months pregnant.
That same exact order from November 2021 -- $140.54.
That's a difference of $15.25, an increase of about 12%.
Let’s just say you saw the same increase in your weekly bill for a full year. If you do the math, that’s about $800 added to your annual grocery budget.
"The one that’s up by far the most is meats, poultry, fish, and eggs," Reed added.
And in my case, prices for every item in those categories increased. For instance, a 24-pack of regularly priced King's Hawaiian Rolls were $7.75 in November of 2020. This November, they were $8.85. The price of a half gallon of 2% milk jumped from $3.15 to $3.57. The price of a 2-pack of center cut bone-in pork chops increased from $8.65 to $8.83.
"Maybe I cringe a little more when I buy the steak, but I still buy the steak," Reed joked with me.
No matter your financial situation, we’re all looking to save some cash money.
Here are some tips:
- Take advantage of sales and BOGOs
- Try store brand items instead
- Buy in bulk
- Use cashback apps, like Ibotta or sign up for rewards programs
And since one of the categories that’s spiked the most recently is meat – maybe trade the T-bone for a sirloin and try a cheaper cut of beef.
Now keep in mind – Instacart is a grocery delivery company. You’re paying for the convenience of someone shopping for you as each item is priced a bit higher than if you were to grab it off the shelf yourself. You can also add a tip to each order.
Instacart declined to comment on their pricing, but they did send this quote from their Trends Expert, Laurentia Romaniuk:
“As we near the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, supply chain disruptions are already weighing heavily on consumers’ minds, with nearly half of Americans who plan to host or cook for the holiday admitting that they’re concerned about getting what they need. Unlike the shortages we saw in the early days of the pandemic, the availability issues we’re seeing today are broader and even more unpredictable -- spanning many categories and shifting week to week. At Instacart, we’re helping our customers and partners find their way through supply disruptions with new and existing features such as real-time availability updates, “running low” status badges, an industry-leading replacement recommendation algorithm, real time customer-shopper chat and smart coupons and promotions.”
And for your entertainment... Do you ever find yourself playing The Price Is Right on Aisle 8 before grabbing that loaf of bread? A few years ago, Bill Gates tried guessing grocery store items on The Ellen Show. Wonder how he'd do now with the current prices? One can only speculate!