Grocery prices saw biggest jump in 50 years last month, putting strain on metro families

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s getting more expensive to feed your family.

In April, as the pandemic continued to wreak economic havoc, grocery prices saw their biggest jump in 50 years. 

Mary Cowan’s grocery cart looked a little different than last month’s.

“I quit buying eggs because they were so expensive. I like eggs but not at that price,” Cowan said.

In April, an 18-pack was pushing more than $6 — a 16.1% price increase in one month. But at Snyder’s Supermarket in Kansas City, that price has since dropped down to $1.99.

“People that are elderly, that don’t have a lot of money, I don’t have a lot of money either, but you know they living on a budget, and people with children they can’t afford it,” Cowan said.

The price for eggs wasn’t the only item that skyrocketed at some stores from March to April.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said grocery prices “shelved” their biggest monthly increase in nearly 50 years.

Shoppers paid 4.3% more for meats, poultry, eggs and fish and 1.5% more for fruits and vegetables. The hike in bakery and cereal products was the steepest single-month increase on record, which goes back 100 years.

“Now, it’s May and they’re up even further,” Greater KC Retail Grocers Association President and CEO Jon McCormick said.

McCormick said beef costs from wholesale to retailers are up 200%.

“I’m gonna say it’s out the roof right now. It’s double pretty much. It’s like double normally what I would pay for it,” Snyder’s Supermarket meat cutter Skeet Morgan said. 

McCormick and Morgan expect the prices of meat to continue to go up over the next couple of months. 

The fix is getting meat packing plants, many of which have been hit by COVID-19 outbreaks, back to work safely. 

In the meantime, McCormick said retailers are doing what they can to keep costs down. 

“They are reducing their margins, trying to help out in this situation when the prices are so high,” McCormick said.

But as stores pay more to get the product, if it’s even in stock, customers need to budget a little differently for the time being. 

“So hopefully things will turn around where things will go back a little bit normally,” Cowan said. “I don’t think they’ll every be the same, but hopefully it will be more manageable.”

As restaurants get back to full business and stock their freezers, McCormick expects to see the beef demand increase and supply go down. 

People will start switching to pork, then chicken. McCormick said that trend could last months. 

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