Let’s be honest — the rising cost of living lately has been depressing, especially when it comes to your groceries. If you have a big family or a horde of hungry teenagers at home, trying to keep up with everyone’s appetites probably feels like it’s decimating your household budget. It’s enough to make anyone wonder, Will food prices go down in 2023? Unfortunately, unless you’re getting ready to live off the grid with your own hen house and garden, don’t expect a break on those sky-high grocery bills.
According to a report from the USDA, prices will continue to increase by almost 8% this year (down from nearly 10% last year), which means food prices will likely still increase in 2023. And although the USDA predicted last year that food prices would grow at a slower rate in 2023, so far, we’ve seen historic price inflation in many food items, including butter, margarine, and eggs. In fact, the latter increased 8.5% in January 2023, reaching 70.1% above January 2022 prices. Yikes.
Food is obviously essential to a growing family. While we might not be able to control the costs of our groceries, there are some ways to help curb our spending while understanding just why food is so damn expensive these days anyway.
Why are food prices continuing to increase?
According to Zach Larsen, finance/investment expert and co-founder of Pineapplemoney.com, you can blame inflation and a change in supply and demand for the rising prices.
“Food prices have been steadily increasing over the past few years due to a variety of factors,” he explains to Scary Mommy. “One major factor is the rising cost of production. With the increased demand for food, producers need to purchase more resources such as land, fertilizers, and labor in order to keep up with the demand. This leads to higher costs for farmers, which are then passed on to consumers in the form of higher retail prices.”
Another factor? Gas prices. If you think it’s expensive to fill up the minivan, well, that also means transportation costs have been on the rise as fuel prices increase and regulations become stricter for shipping food products. All these factors, says Larsen, contribute to an overall increase in food prices. And let’s not forget inflation.
“As inflation rises, so do the costs of goods and services, including food items,” he says. “This can be seen especially in countries where currency devaluation has occurred or where there is a large gap between incomes and living expenses.”
Jonathan Merry, CEO and founder at Moneyzine, believes the extreme economic downturn seen over the last couple of years has also played a part in why food prices are so high.
“In many food industries, such as in dairy, the labor turnover rate is at an all-time high,” he says. “Labor shortages affect the production capacity of the industry. Less labor means less production, which furthers to less supply and higher prices.”
How can you prepare and budget for the price increase?
Larsen and Merry agree that the best way to deal with high food prices is to plan meals ahead of time and start buying food in bulk. “This will help you determine what ingredients you need and how much you need to buy,” Larsen explains. “Additionally, planning meals ahead of time can help you avoid impulse purchases or buying items that are not part of your meal plan. You may also want to consider buying in bulk when possible to save money in the long run.”
Of course, meal planning is often easier said than done with everything else you’re juggling (hello, invisible load of motherhood!). If that rings true, try shaking up your regular grocery shopping routine.
You have a favorite grocery store, right? Sure you do; it’s one of those things that no one tells you happens when you become an adult. However, Larsen suggests shopping around for the best prices. “Compare prices at different stores and look for sales or discounts on certain items,” he says.
Lastly, planting that garden and getting your own chicken coop might not be that bad of an idea. “Planting a vegetable garden or having fruit trees can provide fresh produce without the added cost of purchasing from the store,” Larsen says. “This is also an excellent way to teach children about where their food comes from and how they can be involved in the process of providing healthy meals for their family.”