Grocery Prices Soar Amid Pandemic

May 14, 2020 Updated: May 14, 2020

Prices are falling across just about every category: Apparel, hotels, cars, car insurance, gas prices, and airfare fell through the floor as people stayed home. But American grocery store price tags are soaring.

Overall, the price of groceries grew 2.6 percent, including seasonal adjustments, in April. That was the biggest increase from one month to the next since 1974, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Prices at the supermarket are rising sharply because the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, has disrupted the food supply chain: When restaurants shut down, Americans started cooking at home, and demand for groceries shot up. But food producers and farmers didn’t have the ability to quickly shift their food deliveries to grocery stores.

The supply-demand imbalance got even more disrupted when meatpacking plant employees started to catch the virus. That created its own backlog, and meat producers had to shutter plants across the country, and the United States now faces some meat shortages.

Also not helping keep your grocery bill in check: Panic-shopping customers are buying lots of food they don’t need to eat immediately. Some grocery stores are putting limits on purchases to keep from running out of stock completely. Others are raising prices to ration certain items, and some are passing rising costs onto consumers as they face higher costs from their suppliers.

So it’s economics 101: Food supplies are pinched, and demand is high. That makes prices go up.

There’s not much escaping it.


Thinking about making an omelette before you start your work day from your couch? That’s going to cost you. Egg prices shot up 16.1 percent last month.

Keeping it simple and switching to cereal won’t help. Breakfast cereal prices rose 1.5 percent. So did milk, bread and juice, with 1.5 percent, 3.7 percent and 3.8 percent increases, respectively.

Treating yourself got more expensive, too. Doughnut prices shot up 5 percent last month, and muffins are 4.7 percent more expensive.

Coffee for your morning walk to the den? Roasted coffee prices rose 1.2 percent and instant coffee was up 2.5 percent.


Maybe you want some soup for lunch? Soup will cost you 2.6 percent more.

A soda for a mid-day treat? Carbonated beverage prices are up 4.5 percent. Maybe a cookie to get some sugar in you? Cookies cost 5.1 percent more in April than in March.

OK, let’s keep it healthy. How about some fruit? Fruit prices were up 1.5 percent, led by apples (4.9 percent) and oranges (5.6 percent). The entire citrus category shot up 4.3 percent.


Meat prices spiked 3.3 percent. So maybe you want to try something else? Pork costs 3 percent more. Chicken shot up 5.8 percent. Fresh fish soared 4.2 percent. And if you want to grill, hot dogs got 5.7 percent more expensive.

The news isn’t much better even if you’re trying to stay healthy. Vegetables rose by 1.5 percent and canned vegetable prices soared 3.6 percent.

Feeding your baby got more expensive too. Baby food prices rose 2.7 percent.

Some Good News

There’s just not a ton of relief out there. But if you are looking for food prices that are getting cheaper, you’ve got a few options.

Ham prices fell by 1.7 percent and breakfast sausage was down 0.3 percent. Butter was down 1.3 percent and prepared salads fell by 3.6 percent. Fresh cupcakes fell 2.3 percent and tomatoes fell by 1.4 percent.

The CNN Wire and Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.