Clevelanders responds: Food prices are draining budgets as inflation rises


We asked readers which prices are rising the most for them, and most are feeling the inflation in their stomachs.

Out of 108 responses from readers, 66 said food or grocery bills had a noticeable effect on their budget when asked which prices affected them the most.

Last week, the United States Publication of the Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing consumer prices jumped 8.5% in one year, a 40-year high for inflation. The Consumer Price Index measures prices from natural gas to used cars, and it measures prices for food that hit people’s wallets at the grocery store, which rose 8.8% from March 2021 to March 2022.

Readers saw increases in other parts of their budget, such as drugs, home repairs, plane tickets and vehicles. Here’s what they had to say (some answers abbreviated for clarity):

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Food prices hit most people

Most readers notice higher food prices, and national data shows that these observations are national trends.

A reader says the oranges she buys have gone from $1 apiece to 3 for $4. Another person, who described herself as a vegan and healthy eater, said the prices for the products were getting “outrageous”. Fresh fruits and vegetables are up 8.1%, according to BLS data.

A bottle of maple syrup, one reader said, now costs between $8 and $10, whereas they paid $5 in 2020. Another reader buys packets of ground beef for $24 instead of $15 , turkey meat at $7.99 a pound instead of $6.49, and organic brown eggs at $4.19 instead of $3 a dozen.

A pound of bacon, said one reader, costs $5-6 instead of $3.50 at their local store. Meats were up 14.8%, according to the BLS, but steaks were up 16.4% on average, while bacon and breakfast sausages were up 16.5% on average.

“I just know my food bill has gone up another $75-$100 – a week,” one reader said. “Eating in or out has become much more expensive.” (Out-of-home food increased by 6.9% on average). “I’ve never had to watch prices as much as I do now when I’m shopping and constantly looking for special offers. I don’t know if things will actually go down.

Lettuce heads cost up to $3 from 99 cents at a reader’s store. Another pays extra for chicken salads, now at $6.49 instead of $4.99.

And chicken wings, which one reader called “the mother of all economic barometers”, are now three times as expensive in her store. Chicken wings are not measured by the BLS, but chicken prices rose 13.4%.

Food and energy prices tend to be the most volatile. Excluding items like gasoline, beef and electricity, prices rose 6.5% year over year, according to the BLS.

Other items see price increases

Readers pointed out that many non-food products and services were also up.

Medical and health care products are increasing. A reader’s medicine went from $4 to $6.09. A two-pack of contact solutions for another drive is $18.99, up $3. Medical care products are up 2.7%.

Purchasing home improvement items is also up in price.

A reader needed a quart of paint for his porch, but the housewares center only had gallons. A gallon of paint he bought for $23 cost $36. another reader said a shelf he was considering buying for his garage now costs $64.98, down from $35.98 in April 2020.

Garden supplies and lawn care services have also risen in price for many readers, according to the responses. The same goes for airfare, hotels, and other vacation-related expenses. According to an analysis conducted for The Plain Dealer and by a travel data company Hopper.

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Cleaning products are also on the rise. A reader, watching prices per ounce, sees laundry detergent at 15 cents an ounce, down from 11 cents, both because prices are rising and containers in stores are getting smaller. Household cleaning products are up 8.7%, according to the BLS.

Many readers also see the price of dog and cat food rising, which the BLS says has risen 5.9% over the past year. One reader says her cat food goes up to $1.29 a can starting at 99 cents, and that’s when it’s in stock. Another said the bags of dog food she buys cost $60, down from $45 previously.

Niche buying is also on the rise. A reader who buys six packs of frozen pizzas from Lou Malnati’s, a chain famous for serving deep-dish pizzas in Chicago, said he was paying $129.99, up $10 from what he previously paid.

“Vacuum tubes for my guitar amplifiers,” said another reader. “Most were made in Russia and, combined with inflation, are almost impossible to find at a decent price.”


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