Going to the supermarket is not getting cheaper.
Rising food costs helped drive inflation rose again last monthdespite a drop in gasoline prices. The food index alone rose 11.4% over the past year, according to the latest consumer’s price index figures, marking the biggest jump in 12 months since May 1979.
The Home Food Index, a measure of price changes at the grocery store, rose 13.5%, also a 43-year high.
Faced with higher prices, consumers have been cutting back, according to Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com. However, “food, at its basic level, is not discretionary,” he said. “That’s the challenging aspect of the circumstances we find ourselves in.”
Prices for staples such as eggs, milk, cereals, bread and butter saw some of the biggest increases, further straining household budgets.
Inflation has also driven many food and beverage companies, including Coke Y PepsiCoa raise prices in beverages and packaged products. Some are also making their packages smaller, also known as “inflation contraction“, or swap less expensive ingredients, a tactic now called “skimpflation.”
“Manufacturers of grocery products know that while most shoppers will immediately notice a price increase, they are less likely to notice a reduction in the net weight of a product or a shift to cheaper ingredients,” he said. Edgar Dworsky, founder of Consumer World, who has been tracking the reduction of popular products, such as Charmin, Quaker Instant Oatmeal and Honey Bunches of Oats.
the Federal Reserve has already taken aggressive steps to fight rising inflationand a poll released earlier this week by the New York Federal Reserve showed that consumers are becoming less fearful of rising prices, although they still expect the inflation rate to be 5.7% a year from now.
“Consumers are prepared for high prices to persist for the foreseeable future, but there’s also a tendency to think things could go back to normal,” Hamrick said.
In the meantime, “it is prudent for people to remain cautious with their household budgets,” he added.
To that end, savings experts share their top tips for spending less on groceries, as food inflation shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
“It’s time to buckle down and has been for a while,” Hamrick said.
- Examine sales. generic brands can be 10% to 30% cheaper than their “premium” counterparts and just as good, but this is not always the case. Big name brands may be offering larger-than-usual discounts right now to maintain loyalty, so it’s worth paying attention to price changes.
- Plan your meals. When you plan your meals ahead of time, you’re more likely to only buy the things you need, said Lisa Thompson, savings expert at Coupons.com. If planning isn’t your thing, at least go shopping with a rough idea of what you’ll be cooking next week to stay on track and avoid impulse buying, she added.
- Buy in large quantities. When it comes to the rest of the items on your list, you can save more by buying in bulk. Joining a wholesale club like Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s will often allow you to get the best unit price on condiments and non-perishables.
- Use a cashback app. Ibotta and Checkout 51 are two of the most popular apps for earning cash at the store, according to Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst for DealNews.com. The average Ibotta user earns between $10 and $20 per month, but the most active users can earn as much as $100 to $300 per montha spokesperson told CNBC.
- Pay with the correct card. while a generic rebate card such as the Citi Dual Cash Card you can earn 2%, there is grocery rewards cards you can earn up to 6% at supermarkets across the country, like the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express. CNBC Select have a full summary of the best cards for the purchase of food along with the APR and annual fees.