The Headlines Said Food Prices Are Up 31.5%

The Lempert Report
March 25, 2016

What are they NOT telling you?

What the headlines did not say is that while prices did rise significantly from 2005 to 2015 the monthly Consumer Price Index for food has actually declined each month since November of 2015. The examples and scare tactics included chicken up 33% over the ten year period, bacon up 34.5%, bakery products up 36% and even canned vegetables and fresh apples up over 40%. The highest increases were for ground beef - more than 65% and eggs, due to the Bird Flu epidemic up 110%

For many shoppers, there still is sticker shock at each checkout experience, and frankly I think the industry needs to do a better job communicating why prices did go up so much and why they are falling now. Most shoppers still do not have a clue where their food comes from and how weather conditions around the planet has affected supplies and costs.

The big headline for 2016 may just be how the price of beef will drop significantly - 10 to 17 percent according to many estimates. The reason? Heavier cattle and a 4 percent rise in production. In many cases however, especially at restaurants and fast food places who are faced with higher minimum wages and health care costs, the price drop may have no effect on what patrons pay. 

Boneless chicken breast meat is expected to drop 3 to 4 percent as is pork. Five of the six major grocery store food group indexes fell between 3 and 3.5 percent - the only increase over the past 12 months is fruits and vegetables which rose 2.7 percent.

If we do not take the time and energy to explain the how, when and why of food prices especially how the decreases will be offset by the higher wages and healthcare costs, we risk losing even more credibility with our shoppers.