Food prices are up 10% since last year. In DuBois, grocery shoppers say they're cutting back
In the parking lot for the Aldi in DuBois, people loaded their cars with grocery bags from the discount supermarket. But most said their trunkful of food was lighter than usual because of rising food costs.
Mary-Ann Piccirillo lives in DuBois. She said she has especially noticed a steeper cost for “dairy products, eggs especially."
Soaring food prices have affected grocery shoppers across the country. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that in May, food prices were up more than 10% over the year before, and costs have continued to rise since then.
The USDA report said dairy products and meat are among the products with the highest price increases. The department predicts this year, the cost of meat, poultry and fish will increase by 8.5 to 9.5%. Dairy prices are projected to increase by a staggering 10.5 to 11.5% this year. The department said dairy prices are climbing due to many factors, including an increase in demand for dairy products, a “historically” low supply of frozen chicken and the avian flu.
The surge in food prices has changed shopping habits for DuBois resident Doug Brennan. He said the high prices have made him more conscious about what he adds to his grocery cart.
“Everything goes up and it’s like, you know, they nickel and dime you. You have to think about what you want to get. And what you can afford and what you can’t,” Brennan said.
Mary-Ellen McMahon said she stopped purchasing some foods because she can’t justify the price tags.
“I don’t buy meat anymore,” McMahon said.
McMahon lives in Philipsburg. She said she makes the trip to DuBois for Aldi’s lower prices.
“When you’re my age and you’re on Social Security and a small pension, you notice. This is why I drive 25 miles because I save money at an Aldi,” McMahon said.
But she says the prices are still noticeably steeper compared to last year. So she’s eating less. She said she’s lost about 30 pounds due to higher grocery prices.
“I’m just more careful what I get. I’ve been making my own detergent and some other things. And I have two cats and a puppy, so I watch what they eat. They probably eat better than I do. Cause I don’t scrimp on what they get,” McMahon said.
She said the high prices have changed the way she prepares her meals. She makes inexpensive entrees that yield multiple servings.
“I just don’t eat that much. I’m very careful. I make a lot of soups. So I can get several meals out of it,” McMahon said.
McMahon is not the only shopper who’s strategically preparing cheaper meals recently. DuBois resident John Sharrow said his family is planning to can a lot of fruits and vegetables.
“I think we’re probably gonna do more canning this year. We did a lot of canning last year, but we’re gonna try to do some more canning and try to stretch our food budget,” Sharrow said.
He said if food prices continue to increase, he might resort to alternative ways to put food on the table instead of solely relying on grocery stores.
“We might just see us going back to the way our older generations did, kind of raising your own food, gardening and we’ll see where it leads us to,” Sharrow said.
Sharrow said he hopes food prices, and living costs in general, will stop rising and “taking a pinch out of [his] everyday routine.”
“The prices are going up and I guess we just have to bear down and see where it goes or see if it comes back,” Sharrow said.
The USDA report said one of the contributing factors to the rising food costs is the war in Ukraine. It predicts food prices will increase by 7.5 to 8.5% this year.