Feb 3, 2023 - Food and Drink

Tampa Bay food prices still steep but below national average

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;">Tampa Bay</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 the Tampa Bay area were up 9.6% in November, the most recent data available, compared to the year prior, per a new analysis from Axios' Kavya Beheraj and Alex Fitzpatrick.

  • The cost of food eaten at home was up 10.4% here, while the price of food eaten away from home was up 8.4%, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Yes, but: That's a slight drop from last summer, and Tampa Bay's price growth is still below the national average.

Why it matters: Grocery bills are one of the most powerful ways 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.

Zoom in: Cereal, bakery goods and nonalcoholic beverages have seen some of the sharpest rises in price here year over year.

By the numbers: Nationwide, the cost of all foods was up 10.4% year over year in December, per BLS.

  • 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.

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.

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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