More Americans have stayed home to cook during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they've paid a higher price for their home meals. While the cost of restaurant foods remained steady through the past few months, the price consumers paid for foods at grocery stores has steeply risen since March 2020.
As customers rushed to stock up on foods at the beginning of the pandemic, there was a sudden and sharp increase in demand for food, which led to higher prices. The dramatic reduction in restaurant traffic also resulted in increased demand for food from grocery stores, thus raising prices for food products, according to an April 2020 post by the USDA.
The Consumer Price Index – a measure of the average change in the prices paid by consumers for goods and services – rose 4.5 percent in June for food, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics . The index for food at home increased 5.6 percent in June, following a 4.8 percent increase in May, before seasonal adjustment.
While the price of poultry products – chicken and eggs – rose modestly, the cost of meat items – both beef and pork – rose sharply in June. The temporary closure of a number of meatpacking plants decreased the supplies of meat products, which eventually led to the steep rise in retail meat prices, according to the USDA report.