Food Inflation Update

The Lempert Report
April 18, 2023

When we take a look at food inflation there's clearly some good news which came out of March.  However I'm not sure that it's gonna last very long. 

Sally: Yes, Phil. Apparently food inflation is down, 0.2%. This is good news. This is the first drop that we've seen since September of 2020. So definitely, that is going to help consumers out. But the other side of it is that because of the massive flooding and the weather, the extreme weather we've seen in states particularly like California where a lot of our vegetables are grown, we may see an increase in some of those common, produce items that we all buy. And particularly there's talk about tomato sauces there being a problem with those prices coming up because the flooding has caused a delay in tomato planning. So we aren't going to have as much of a harvest this year. 

Phil: Yeah, I think food inflation is gonna turn around, meaning go back up. There's no question about it as it relates to climate. And also, in Saturday's New York Post, there's a great story about, Zabars. Zabars has a place on the West Side, which is their original one. They opened up a place on the east side called Zabar's E A T and what this story is about. Talk about inflation, a ham and cheese sandwich is $29 for a ham and cheese sandwich. Now, it's not anything like really special as it relates to ham, or the cheese, or the bread. It's whatever. So this reporter, Jeanette Settembre, went there, bought it, did a great video on it. She and I spoke about it on Friday and I'll give you my quote. “The idea of a ham and cheese sandwich selling for $29 is ridiculous – even if it serves two portions; no matter how good the ingredients are or where they are from; or how tasty the sandwich is.”

Phil:And it's amazing because she also talked to a lot of people about buying it. The Upper East side of New York is typically thought of as one of the wealthiest parts of Manhattan. And when she went to buy the sandwich, an employee at the Eatery was so embarrassed by the price they offered to charge her $22 instead of $29. They also said that there's a full soup and salad meal deal with a drink for $18 at a Panera, which is just down the street. So I think that, we're going crazy on this. And even in New York City where a ham and cheese sandwich is now 29 bucks, it's absolutely absurd.