Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Facing Rising Food Costs

Joyelle Freeman

If you think your grocery bill is high, you’re not alone. Consumers worldwide are experiencing rising food prices.

Food prices rose 4 percent in the United States last year, the highest rise since 1990, and are expected to climb as much again this year, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

The Local Impact

Tracy Galway of Athens County Job and Family Services says these rising prices have caused many Athens families to resort to other options like food banks and food stamps.

Tracy Galway of Athens County Job and Family Services talks about the effects high prices have had on Athens.

Galway says the high prices are also affecting the selection of food available for consumption.

Galway says food banks are doing what they can, but "99 dollars just doesn't go far enough."

The reasons why

As reported recently in the Wall Street Journal, wholesale prices of key food items have risen dramatically from a year ago:
• Butter prices- up 31%
• Cheddar- up 65%
• Nonfat dry milk prices- up 117%
• Broiler chickens- up 17.5%

According to, there are a few explanations for these rising costs.

•Ethanol has driven corn prices up 70% in a year. Now more land is planted in corn, and soybeans, wheat, oats, and barley are all up from 5% to 35%. Corn is also a key ingredient in a long list of processed foods like breakfast cereal.
•Higher distribution costs. It costs more to process food and it costs more to move it all to market.
•World demand. Food exports have grown as have the living standards in China, India and other growing economies.
•Most of what we eat is shipped great distances, and gas is really expensive.

The site also mentioned some good tips on what consumers can do to help themselves.

What to do

•Change your shopping patterns by buying bulk packaged items in warehouse clubs. Discount grocers can save a lot.
•Find substitutes. Generic or store-branded products have become more credible substitutes for many brand name products.
•Eat a little less.
•Save your money and stop buying junk. You could take that money and use it to increase the small amounts people are given on food stamps.

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