Noticing a high grocery bill? Expert says it’s not going down anytime soon

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Increased supermarket employment and new sanitizing protocols contributed to higher grocery bills

High demand for groceries is forcing a massive disruption across the food supply chain.

Bread, chicken, milk, and eggs are just a few of the items flying off the shelves as shoppers frantically flocked to the store’s late March to fill their carts because of the pandemic.

When the current global health crisis hit earlier this year, many shoppers began stocking up on essential items.t. Now, Bradley University Assistant Professor of Economics Colin Corbett said it resulted in prices soaring across the board.

The state is inching back to normalcy, but many shoppers are still noticing a high grocery bill.

“I use to be able to come out of here like $50, $60. Now it’s over $100 when I am getting the same things,” Peoria shopper Jody Baker said.

The current situation created an unusual price movement. According to the U.S. Bureau of labor statistics, shoppers are now paying on average nearly 4% more for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs.

“Back in like mid to late March when this pandemic was first setting in nationally, then yeah panic buying had a fair amount to do with the prices people where seeing,” Corbett said. “But because we’ve seen fewer people eating out and thus eating more food at home we have just seen an increase in demand for groceries.”

Corbett also adds increased supermarket employment and new sanitizing protocols impacts produce costs too..

“Just supplying groceries has been made more difficult because of the pandemic. Grocery stores having to force all their employees to wear masks and lots of disinfecting going on all the time have increased their costs,” he said.

One reason for the higher prices for meat is the COVID-19 outbreaks at meat processing plants. A recent CNN report shows thousands of workers tested positive for the virus and 44 died. Now, it’s putting a strain on meat processing.

“I’m thinking you use to be able to buy a pound of hamburger that was probably 8/20, is I would usually get. And you can get a pound for maybe I wanna say 3 dollars and something and now its over six maybe seven. Just with hamburger. Like even the chicken sometimes, where that use to be reasonable and now it’s expensive. For chicken,” Baker said.

Illinois enters phase four of its reopening plan Friday.
Still, prices at the checkout are fluctuating. Corbett said consumers shouldn’t expect prices to go back to normal any time soon.

“As long as the virus is causing supply chain interruption then we can expect high grocery prices,” he said. “So if you want food prices to go back down then you should support efforts to suppress the efforts.”

However, some items are seeing savings. According to CNN, that includes products like ham, breakfast sausage, butter, and tomatoes.
Items like fresh fish, lettuce, and bacon also fell .1%

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