Feb 27, 2023 - Food and Drink

Boston grocery bills still inflating

Data: CPI; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: CPI; Chart: Axios Visuals

Grocery prices rose 1.3% in Boston in January as compared to November 2022, per the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) data.

  • Nationally, the cost of groceries rose only about 0.7% in January from December, about half of the increase seen in metro Boston.

Why it matters: For many of the approximately 63% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, rising food prices can be an especially difficult financial challenge.

  • Such prices, meanwhile, are particularly vulnerable to outside and difficult-to-control forces, such as climate change and geopolitical happenings.

Zoom in: Among the metro areas with newly published CPI data, some of the highest increases in grocery prices were reported in Denver (+2% between November 2022 and January 2023) and Washington, D.C. (+1.6%).

  • Chicago had among the lowest increases, at +0.8% between November 2022 and January 2023.

The big picture: Mark Schneider, CEO of global food giant Nestlé, recently predicted that the price of staple foods will keep rising this year.

  • "We are still in a situation where we're repairing our gross margin and, like all the consumers around the world, we've been hit by inflation and now we're trying to repair the damage that has been done," Schneider said on a call with reporters, per CNN.

Yes, but: The retail price of one key foodstuff — eggs — is expected to drop after a collapse in wholesale prices.

The bottom line: While inflation had appeared to be cooling off broadly speaking, experts are warning that price increases are still possible, even likely — like aftershocks following an earthquake.

  • "No one said disinflation would be a smooth ride," Robert Frick, an economist at Navy Federal Credit Union, wrote in a recent note, as Axios' Neil Irwin and Courtenay Brown reported.

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