Food prices expected to spike across the High Desert and the U.S.

Hold on to your wallets, prices on all food items are expected to increase by nearly 5% this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported.

Hold on to your wallets, prices on all food items are expected to increase by nearly 5% this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported.

Candice Weber has an economic dilemma, between the high cost of gasoline and groceries, she and her husband are struggling to stay afloat.

“We always buy off-brands when available, but even those have gone up,” said Weber, a Victor Valley resident. “What worked before on budget is now putting us underwater.”

For the Webers and those living in the U.S., bringing home the bacon is about to cost even more as the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that all food prices are expected to increase by nearly 5%.

Food price increases are already the highest in decades as grocery prices rose nearly 9% for the year, according to the USDA’s Food Prices Outlook for 2022 March report.

The USDA’s Economic Research Service updated its March report predicting a 4.5% to 5% rise in food prices this year.

Grocery prices

Grocery prices are also expected to rise between 3% and 4% in the coming months, the report said.

No food category, the USDA said, decreased in price in 2021. And now the USDA revised its forecast upward for all food categories, including meats, poultry, eggs, dairy products, fats and oils, and more. The only category that the USDA revised downward was fresh vegetables.

Beef and veal had the largest increase and fresh vegetables the smallest. Prices for wholesale beef are predicted to increase between 4% and 7%.

The Webers, who have incorporated a ketogenic lifestyle, said the keto bars that they used to purchase at five for $6.49 have jumped to $8.99 a week later.

Cheryl Causey said higher prices are cutting into her grocery budget as she shops and “pays more for less.”

“I am rethinking menu plans, writing shopping lists and going back over them to cross off anything that isn’t a real necessity,” Causey said. “Then check prices at the store for the items that stayed on the list and decide if I am willing to pay the higher price or just go without.”

Causey said she thought she’d be saving money by making grocery lists two weeks at a time to save on gas.

‘But every time I go into the store, I find prices have gone up again so it seems like I just can’t win,” Causey said. “Oh, and any fun we like to do may have to be put off so we can put the money on the gas and grocery tabs.”

Dining out

Eating out will also see an even higher increase, about 5.5% to 6.5%, the report said.

Victorville resident Mark Preston said he “feels sorry” for owners of small restaurants who are struggling to make ends meet.

“These owners lost thousands of dollars during the COVID-19 shutdown,” Preston, 62, said. “And just when things started opening up again and they were making money, the high cost of food and transportation is causing them to raise prices.”

Restaurant chains across every segment, from quick service to casual dining, are raising prices for a variety of reasons: Increased labor costs, increased food costs, general inflation, according to Nation’s Restaurant News.

At least 12 restaurants directly addressed menu price increases, including Wendy’s CFO Gunther Plosch, who said that the company expects to “price north of 5% in 2022.”

Texas Roadhouse is planning to bake a 3% menu increase into its mid-April menu due to rising commodity and other costs.

Restaurant Brands International, parent to Burger King, Popeyes, Tim Hortons and Firehouse Subs, said it was expecting menu prices to increase in 2022.

Why so high?

The reason for the skyrocketing price of food varies, with some blaming disruptions in the global supply chain, the price of gasoline, adverse weather conditions, rising energy prices and the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Even before the pandemic, global food prices had been trending upward as the U.S.-China trade war resulted in Chinese tariffs on American agricultural goods, according to the New York Times.

Contributing to the higher retail poultry and egg prices, the report said, is avian influenza. Prices for poultry are predicted to increase by 6% to 7% and 2.5%-3.5% for eggs.

“An ongoing outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza could contribute to poultry and egg price increases through reduced supply or decrease prices through lowered international demand for U.S. poultry products or eggs,” according to the report.

Strong demand for dairy products is driving up retail prices. The USDA’s outlook in 2022 for dairy predicts a 4% to 5% increase.

Also putting pressure on food prices is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and increases in interest rates by the Federal Reserve.

“The impacts of the conflict in Ukraine and the recent increases in interest rates by the Federal Reserve are expected to put upward and downward pressures on food prices, respectively.

The situations will be closely monitored to assess the net impacts of these concurrent events on food prices as they unfold,” the report said.

Inflation came in at 7.9% for the last 12 months — the highest year-over-year increase since April 1981, according to February’s U.S. Consumer Price Index, released in March.

USS TODAY contributed to this report.

Daily Press reporter Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz

This article originally appeared on Victorville Daily Press: Food prices expected to soar across the High Desert, U.S.

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