May 12, 2020 - Economy

The rising cost of grocery staples

In this image, a woman wearing a face mask puts fruit into a bag

A volunteer works at a pop-up grocery store in Norcross, Georgia, May 8. Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Grocery staples in the U.S. cost more in the last month than in almost 50 years, according to new data out Tuesday from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why it matters: Children in the U.S. are currently facing "unprecedented" food insecurity in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. High prices for basic grocery items could further harm low-income Americans currently weathering abysmal job loss and challenging economic conditions.

By the numbers: Consumers paid 4.3% more for meats, poultry, fish and eggs in April than in March, the Labor Department found. Cereals and bakery products cost 2.9% more in the same time frame.

  • U.S. consumers paid 2.6% more overall for groceries in April — the largest single-month increase since February 1974, according to the Labor Department.

Context: Meat processing plants in more than a dozen states closed in April, hurting output of beef, pork, poultry and fish.

  • At least 5,000 coronavirus cases and 20 deaths have occurred in 115 meat and poultry processing facilities across the U.S., the CDC found in early May.

Go deeper: Consumer Price Index posts largest decline since 2008

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