If you’ve noticed the price of eggs and milk going up lately, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. In fact, there are several grocery items that are getting more expensive — mainly due to changes that are happening in the global supply chain resulting from COVID-19. The good news is there are alternatives you can buy instead to keep your wallet from taking a big hit. Keep reading to learn which grocery items are getting more expensive and what products you can buy in place of them.
According to U.S. News & World Report, in May the price of beef in general was up 18.2 percent from the previous year. But, get this: the price of beef roasts went up a whopping 26.9 percent! And, just from April to May, beef roasts went up 19.5 percent, steaks went up 11.6 percent, and ground beef went up 7.2 percent.
But, beef isn’t the only meat that’s seeing price increases. The price of pork was up 14 percent from the previous year. And, in just one month (from April to May), the price went up 8.4 percent.
All of this can be blamed on the coronavirus, which caused several packing plants to close their doors. As a result, the country is looking at a potential meat shortage, which means that the prices will jump even higher. Thankfully, there are things you can do to combat these high prices. Phil Lempert, food industry analyst and editor of SupermarketGuru, suggests buying frozen meats instead. “I know a lot of frozen food cases were decimated for the past couple of weeks, but for the most part, they’ve now been restocked into almost full,” Lempert told CNBC.
Another option is to explore cheaper alternative protein sources, like plant-based food (e.g. beans and tofu). There are even meat-free brands, like Tuno, a fish-free tuna alternative from Atlantic Natural Foods.
According to USA Today, price increases for poultry were steep. In fact, the price of whole chickens went up 9.6 percent from the previous year. Not only that but whole chickens have also been hard to find in some stores across the country. But, there are better alternatives. For one thing, you can always buy chicken parts instead of the whole bird. They are less expensive, although their cost has gone up as well. Another option is to buy frozen chicken. “Private brand frozen chicken breasts have not only gone down in price, but they also offer nearly 50 cents per pound savings vs. national brands,” Aimee Becker, senior vice president of strategy advisory at Daymon, a global private brand consultant, told U.S. News & World Report.
8. Fruits and Vegetables
Did you know that travel bans are causing the produce at your local grocery store to be priced higher? Yep, it’s true. According to Eat This, Not That!, fruits and veggies that are imported from other countries will see a price increase due to a change in supply and demand. So, how do you avoid this increase? Well, one thing you can do is buy canned vegetables. According to U.S. News & World Report, canned tomatoes only saw a 2.1 percent increase from the year before, whereas fresh tomatoes saw an 8.8 percent increase. You could also consider purchasing your veggies at farmers markets. They’ll be much cheaper due to the fact that many farmers are looking to sell off excess crops that normally would have gone to restaurants.
7. Dairy Products
Cheese saw a 7 percent increase from the previous year, while milk saw a 5.4 percent increase. What’s more is that we are likely to see a steady price increase on all dairy products in general. Still, there are cheaper alternatives out there. For example, you can substitute silken tofu for some soft cheeses when cooking. Another way to save money on cheese is to buy store brands instead of the more expensive brand names. As for milk, you can always use dry milk or plain yogurt when baking.
Egg prices are on the rise (13.5 percent from the previous year). “We went from 50 cents to $2.50 (per dozen) at the wholesale level,” Trey Malone, a Michigan State University assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, told U.S. News & World Report. But, it wasn’t due to any shortage or scarcity. It was based on the fact that, once restaurants shut down during the pandemic, egg sales shifted from commercial buyers to consumers. Unfortunately, government regulations didn’t allow companies to repack eggs from commercial orders for supermarket sales. And, even though these regulations were eventually eased and prices went down a bit in mid-June, you may still want to seek out alternatives. In fact, there are some very interesting foods you can use in the place of eggs when cooking. Silken tofu is one. Applesauce is another.
5. White Bread
We know you love the taste of white bread so much more than wheat bread, but your wallet doesn’t love the fact that white bread saw a 4.3 percent increase from the previous year. But, there’s an easy solution to this problem: buy whole wheat bread instead. Yuck, right! Well, it depends on who you ask. Anyway, the price of nonwhite bread has only increased 2.7 percent, plus eating whole wheat bread is so much better for you. And, the truth of the matter is, the more you eat it, the more you’ll get used to its taste. So, go ahead and give it a try. Your wallet and your body will thank you.
4. Wheat Products
Wheat products, including cereal, flour and bakery products, have seen a price increase of 2.9 percent. That’s because wheat crops are taking a hit globally, an article published by Bloomberg reported. Additionally, the USDA said that wheat reserves are projected at all-time highs. “While the particular driver for increasing retail prices is unclear — whether it’s coming from production issues or panic buying at stores — the shelves have been scarce of flour as of recently,” Eat This, Not That! said in an article published on its website.
Rice production is taking a huge hit all around the world due to increasing export prices from some Asian suppliers. For instance, Nigeria is seeing a 30 percent increase in retail markets. And, with increasing travel issues, it’s only going to get worse. So, if rice is a must-have in your household, you might want to try shopping around. You can get better deals at dollar stores (think Dollar Tree, where everything is $1). You could also try shopping at budget stores like Lidl and Aldi.
2. Sugar and Sugar Substitutes
The price of sugar and sugar substitutes went up 9 percent from the previous year. This is bad news for those of us who have a sweet tooth. But, wait… it gets worse. There’s no alternative product to try. Instead, an article published by U.S. News & World Report suggests that we tackle this particular price increase problem by (gasp)… cutting back on the amount of sugar we consume. “With sugar, there is always an opportunity to use less,” Andy Ellwood, co-owner and president of Basket, an app that allows shoppers to input a shopping list and see how much it would cost to buy the items at various nearby stores, told U.S. News & World Report.
Price increases for seafood have been pretty steep, thanks to COVID-19. That’s because most seafood is sold to restaurants. And, with restaurants temporarily closing due to the coronavirus pandemic, demand for seafood went down, and fisherman stopped gathering fresh seafood. Not only that but a lot of seafood comes from remote areas that are struggling because of the coronavirus. For example, Alaska has seen a spike in coronavirus cases just as the summer fishing season started. This season typically brings thousands of people to the state, including Christopher Nicolson, a New York-based winemaker/salmon fisherman who told The New York Times that he’s afraid to make his annual trip to Naknek, AK, to haul in the catch for his fish company. “I have never felt more reluctant to leave New York,” Nicolson told the newspaper. “I’m not as concerned about my own family as much as my extended family and the community I’m coming into. I can’t be cavalier, but I need to balance that with the necessity to keep my family eating, paying the mortgage, you know?”