Jan 30, 2023 - Food and Drink

Energy costs, supply chain push Atlanta food prices to new high

Change in the cost of food in <span style="color: white; background-color: #300d8c; padding: 0px 5px; display: inline-block; white-space: nowrap; font-weight: 400;">Atlanta</span> and the <span style="color: black; background-color: #D4D4D4; padding: 0px 5px; display: inline-block; white-space: nowrap; font-weight: 400;">U.S.</span>
Data: BLS; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Food prices across metro Atlanta were up 12.5% in December, according to a new analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics from Axios' Kavya Beheraj and Alex Fitzpatrick.

  • The cost of food eaten at home was up 14.6%, while the price of food eaten away from home was up 9.8%.

Why it matters: Grocery bills are one of the most powerful ways in which many Americans experience inflation.

  • As the cost of eggs, milk and other staples rise, families living on the financial edge are left making difficult choices about what to buy — and what to skip.
  • For restaurants and other businesses, higher food prices can leave owners with the difficult choice of swallowing the costs or passing them on to customers.

By the numbers: Nationwide, the cost of all foods was up 10.4% year-over-year in December, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • The cost of food prepared at home was up 11.8%, while food eaten at restaurants was up 8.3%.
  • Those are all down just slightly from recent highs set towards the end of 2022.

Driving the news: COVID-related supply chain disruptions, climate change and higher energy costs are just some of the factors contributing to higher food prices.

  • Russia's war in Ukraine, a major wheat producer, continues to affect the global supply — and thus price — of that key foodstuff.
  • The Federal Trade Commission, meanwhile, is under increasing pressure from lawmakers and advocacy groups to investigate whether egg producers are manipulating prices.

The intrigue: Some businesses have noticed that while consumers may gripe about higher costs, they're willing to pay up, as the New York Times recently reported — disincentivizing them from bringing prices back down to Earth.

The big picture: Rising food prices aren't just changing the kinds of items that Americans are buying, as Axios' Emily Peck recently reported — they're forcing families to buy less food entirely.

  • "People are starting to think about what they truly need — and what can wait," Emily wrote.

What we're watching: There are some glimmers of hope on the horizon.

  • Wholesale egg prices, for instance, are beginning to drop, Axios' Kelly Tyko reports. Retail prices usually follow.

The bottom line: Many of the underlying economic and political factors affecting food prices persist, making it all but impossible to predict what your grocery spending will look like this year.

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