19 February 2011

Why Americans haven't noticed rising food prices. Yet.

What I've noticed has been package-shrinking, so that you get less product for a similar apparent price. But a Slate article notes that another factor is insulating the U.S. from the effects now being noted (and protested) in the third world:
One way or another, it's clear the food price bubble has reached crisis levels. But why hasn't it reached America? For one, Americans and residents of other industrialized nations consume higher proportions of processed foods—Doritos, hot dogs, and the like. A large part of the price of these foods comes from labor, packaging, and marketing, making them less sensitive to changes in food costs. They're less food than food-based products. Economist Mark Perry produced a chart that helps demonstrate the phenomenon. Food prices for raw goods (like wheat) fluctuate wildly, while prices for processed goods (like breakfast cereal) are far less volatile.
The graph referred to in the paragraph is embedded above, and comes from this Carpe Diem article.


  1. I noticed! A head of cauliflower is now $2.50 at the local Walmart. Broccoli is even higher. Last year it was a dollar or more cheaper.

  2. 1.89 for a (as in ONE) bell pepper, I've noticed big time.

  3. Within the last several months, I noticed one of my "splurge" items had a labeled "new lower price" at my favorite grocery store. An item that I knew to be priced $3.75 for quite some time has now been lowered to $4.25! What a deal! Now every time I see this sticker, I feel suspicious - I would rather not be played the fool in a situation like this. I think many who are in a rush or just grab the item without paying any mind don't notice these careful increases, or believe the advertising. Interesting situation.

    (I am always silent, but read and enjoy all the time! A great source of brainfood, with no rising costs!)


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