Feb 6, 2023 - Food and Drink

Boston food prices saw year-end rise despite national slowdown

Data: BLS. Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Food prices across Greater Boston were up 11% in November 2022.

  • The cost of food eaten at home was up 12.4%, while the price of food eaten away from home was up 10.8%.

Food inflation has slowed down compared to the increases Greater Boston saw last summer and early fall, but that hasn’t brought much relief to our bank accounts.

Why it matters: Grocery bills are one of the most pertinent 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: Pandemic-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.


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