As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into its second year, Americans are still feeling the effects the pandemic has had on all aspects of life. In addition to the health risks, the virus has in some cases made food production more difficult and more expensive. Consumer demands for certain types of food shifted quickly, and companies struggled to keep up with demand, especially as the food supply chain was often interrupted.
While the prices of grocery store items increased across the board from the beginning of 2020 to the beginning of 2021, many types of food reported increases that were several times higher.
To determine the groceries driving up your food bill the most during the pandemic, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the change in the consumer price index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for all categories of food from January 2020 to January 2021.
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, as more states issued stay-at-home orders, Americans rushed to grocery stores to buy shelf-stable products, stocking up in case food became difficult to find or less accessible if the pandemic worsened. Lockdown orders also shifted consumer behavior with Americans cooking at home more. Shoppers also purchased proteins like meats — especially those that could be frozen and saved for an extended period of time.
These products became more expensive as demand increased and supply chains were impacted. Meat processing plants were frequently shut down due to COVID-19 outbreaks at the plant.
With food prices rising and millions of workers losing their jobs, many Americans have struggled to afford even the basic necessities throughout 2020. An increasingly large number of Americans turned to federal government’s programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. These are the states where government food assistance is spiking.