MENOMONEE FALLS -- — A year plus into the pandemic and food prices keep climbing. The USDA reports the cost of basics like bread and meat is up. Bacon went from $4.72 per pound in April of last year to $5.11 per pound and bread averaged $2.44 a loaf last year. Now it's $2.66.
Julia and Troy Parnitzke of Menomonee Falls have four kids to feed. They found a way to be budget-conscious without having to clip coupons.
"The prices were definitely coming up on meats once COVID-19 hit," said Troy.
To save on meal staples like meat, they buy a quarter of a cow and a half a pig from family farms in Kewaskum, who send them to a butcher.
"Just the fact that it's in your freezer, it's available and ready to go and was very convenient," continued Troy.
And, it's cost-efficient. The couple says, for example, they're able to get beef for up to $2 less per pound instead of what it is in the grocery store.
"Plus it was organic, which, if you go buy organic meat, then that bumps the price up even more," said Julie.
Consumer experts believe shoppers will eventually shift their buying habits if prices keep rising.
"They might be able to willing to stay with the brands for some time, but it's going to be temporary," Purush Papatla, Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute Professor of Marketing at UWM and Co-director of the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute.
"There are some estimates that the average household this year alone, may end up spending $500 more on groceries," Papatla continued.
Papatla explains a price jump is a result number of factors. First, the pandemic is still impacting what you pay when you checkout.
Restrictions related to COVID-19 remain in place at many manufacturing facilities.
"Production of products has come down because of those constraints and so that is passed on through rising prices," he said.
"We get a lot of our products from offshore, we import a lot of our food. Sixty percent of our seafood, if I'm not mistaken is imported. Now all of that imported product is coming mostly on ships and there's a lot of problems getting ships to their destinations once again because of crews not being able to stay on ships for too long and crews not being able to get off ships when they come to port," he explained.
In addition, Papatla says a jump in some commodity prices, like pulp, for example, used inside of diapers and toilet paper will likely be passed on to shoppers.
"Those who are already finding it difficult in terms of their earnings, it's going to make it even worse," he said.
Papatla says buying in bulk and choosing generic brands are ways consumers can save.
Or, you can try what the Parnitzke family does. But, from what the couple says, others are catching on.
"The butcher that we had, had an increase in people doing this during COVID-19, so more people started to realize like well, maybe we'll do that too and now the dates for butchering are pushed way off, so you really have to know ahead of time and be committed to doing it," Troy said.
The USDA reports a family of four on a thrifty plan can expect to pay $136.10 to 156.20 a week on groceries.
A liberal food plan costs $265.90 to $311.50 per week.
The Parnitzke family gets their pork from Special T Pork in Kewauskum at 5692 Sunset Drive. You can reach Special T Pork via email at firstname.lastname@example.org