Special Report

20 Groceries Driving Up Your Food Bill the Most During the Pandemic

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10. Bacon and related products
> One year price increase: +5.0%

The bacon and related products category ranks as one of the 10 grocery categories with the largest price increase amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with prices for items in the category soaring by 5.4% from January 2020 to January 2021. As people cooked at home much more frequently, proteins like bacon surged in popularity, leading to a price increase across the country.

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9. Citrus fruits
> One year price increase: +5.4%

Citrus fruit prices wax and wane with their seasonality each year, with prices generally bottoming out around February or March. Even before the pandemic, citrus prices were at their lowest level in years in early 2020. The pandemic appears to have caused a huge increase in demand for citrus fruits, which are rich in vitamin C, which supports normal immune system function.

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8. Shelf stable fish and seafood
> One year price increase: +5.5%

Shelf-stable fish and seafood like canned tuna had one of the largest price increases during the pandemic of all grocery items, with prices spiking by 5.5%. Americans stocked up on such proteins because of their “shelf life, availability, and relatively low price,” according to a congressional report on the seafood industry and its response to COVID-19.

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7. Poultry
> One year price increase: +6.1%

Poultry like chicken is one of just seven grocery categories in which prices increased by more than 6% from January 2020 to January 2021. The global poultry supply chain, like many others, was significantly affected by COVID-19. Workers at many poultry plants were asked to work overtime hours to keep up with demand at early points in the pandemic, but many of these plants then closed because of virus outbreaks at the plants.

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6. Sugar and artificial sweeteners
> One year price increase: +6.1%

Sugar and artificial sweetener prices had peaked in early 2012 before declining sharply, and they had stayed relatively stagnant from 2015 to 2019. Since the pandemic hit, sugar and sweetener prices have risen significantly, increasing 6.1% from January 2020 to January 2021. In this year-long window, the cost of sugar and artificial sweeteners has been relatively volatile, with significant month-to-month changes.