Shock at the checkout, food prices climb - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Shock at the checkout, food prices climb

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Grocery store customers are getting quite a shock at the checkout.

Food prices are up across the board, from dairy to fruits and vegetables, to meat.

A food price index is up 6-percent in the last 12 months, meaning you're paying more at the store.

It doesn't appear that will change as we head into the new year.

We talked with store owners that say they've cut out items like lobster tails and racks of lamb because they're simply too pricey, no ones willing to pay what they're worth and on top of it they're getting hit with fuel charges adding to the bottom line.

From south Georgia fields where it's costing farmers more to make a crop.

"There was just a lot of extra money involved in crop production in general across the board no matter what you were growing this year," said Mark Daniel, Mark's Melon Patch Owner.

to the store, where owner say those costs are being passed along, it's meant a hit to customers wallets.

"Produce prices always seem to go up and down like gas prices, but it cost more to produce, produce," said Tommy McDowell, owner of Tommy Mc's Produce and Country Store.

Produce prices are up six tenths of a percent, thanks to flooding in the mid-west and a drought from Texas to the northeast. Then there's the price of meat, poultry, fish, and eggs up four tenths from July to August.

"People are selling off cattle, they're culling their cattle and getting good prices for the culls and people are not replacing cattle so that can't mean but one thing," said McDowell.

Economists say with many on a tight budget there's nothing left to consider other than substitutions at the store.

"Instead of buying beef, people buy pork, instead of buying chicken, people may decided to buy the goods that they wouldn't prefer," said Amaechi Nwaokoro, Albany State University Associate Professor of Economics.

Weather problems from frosts, to floods, to droughts are the driving force creating scarcity.

"Economics is about scarcity, when these good are scarce by the time they get to the grocery store then the price goes up," said Nwaokoro.

It's forced major food companies like Kraft, Corn Flakes Maker, Kellogg, and General Mills, producer of Cheerios to raise prices and shrink products to offset their higher costs, and unfortunately economics say it will take some time before these prices come down again.

An increase in prices has forced more to see food assistance some for the first time. It's increasing demand at food banks who also are struggling to purchase food at a higher price.

Sugar prices seem to be one area where prices have eased with a better than expected sugar crop in Brazil.

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