COVID-19 blamed for 2020 spike in grocery store food prices

By NewsRadio 1080 KRLD

If you need yet another reason to despise 2020 and to be glad it's gone then check last year's grocery bills.

The latest Consumer Price Index has the final 2020 numbers showing food prices increased at the supermarket last year by an average of 3.5 percent.

USDA economist Carolyn Chelius says "we haven't seen that level of food price inflation since 2011 and that is seventy-five percent above the 20 year historical level of inflation."

In fact, in 2019 grocery store food prices went up less than one percent and in 2018 less than a half-percent.

Of course, we need look no further than the onset of COVID-19 that Chelius says caused bottlenecks in supply. "There were distribution systems that had to pivot from the restaurant trade to retail markets, add to that there were outbreaks in meat processing plants that slowed production and drove up prices."

In fact, prices for some foods actually increased far more than that average 3.5 percent.

Chelius says "the largest price increase was in beef and veal which jumped nine-point-six percent."

Chelius expects food prices to gradually fall as we get further into 2021 but probably not below the 2020 average and says "most likely one or two percent above that average."