Expert says grocery prices won't drop until at least early 2021 due to pandemic

Posted at 6:15 AM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 07:15:33-04

MILWAUKEE — The pandemic has put our food supply chain into a tailspin and there's a good chance, your grocery bill is bigger.

During COVID-19, items like milk, meat, and fresh fruit and vegetables cost more at the grocery store. Consumer price data from the USDA shows, for most food groups, prices are up about three to five percent compared to last year. Beef is up almost 10 percent compared to last month.

"Normally the ground chuck you can get it for $2.99. Now you’re lucky if you can get it for $5.99," said shopper Patty Tingwald.

"It’s kind of crazy and I hate to say it but sometimes it’s easier to eat out almost," said another shopper Robin Frey.

Dean Le Blanc, Professor of Supply Chain Management at Milwaukee Area Technical College explains the price hike has to do with meat processing plants being closed combined with more people eating at home and also, panic buying.

"We are seeing historic large increases in food costs. It’s really supply and demand economics 101. Food supply chains essentially cannot move inventory fast enough. With the prospect of a second wave of COVID-19 cases, some consumers are still in this panic buying mode if you will and unintentionally those actions are contributing to higher prices," Le Blanc said.

TMJ4 News asked Le Blanc if he had any advice for those consumers financially strapped.

"Make sure that you’re shopping at multiple stores. We all know that when it comes to food selections that most grocers have some strengths and weaknesses," he said.

Le Blanc also suggests shopping at warehouses so you can buy in bulk or using grocery apps that offer cash rebates or cashback like Checkout 51 or Ibotta.

"Unfortunately we will not see any immediate price relief for the foreseeable future." Barring any large scale or second wave of COVID 19 cases, I would fully expect to see food prices beginning to normalize after the first of the year," he continued.

"It’s kind of bad people aren’t all back to work yet so they don’t have that amount of money to spend on the increasing prices," Tingwald said.

"It’s hard when you have a family. You have to try to figure out how to stretch a buck," Frey said.

Here are other websites offering money-saving tips for grocery shopping:

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