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Food Prices Rise During COVID-19

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The USDA says grocery store prices rose 5.6 percent higher in June of 2020 compared with June of last year. Retail prices rose for all food-at-home categories except for fresh fruits. Many of the increases were a result of the coronavirus.

COVID-19 disrupted the supply chains of multiple commodities and affected consumers’ food spending patterns. That put upward pressure on wholesale and retail food prices.

Closing schools and stay-at-home orders in the spring of 2020 resulted in the dairy industry switching from supplying products for schools and restaurants to supplying products to grocery stores and other food-at-home retailers.

Adapting to the change placed upward pressure on retail prices for dairy products, which rose 5.1 percent from June of last year to June 2020. Beef also suffered from supply chain disruptions. Decreased slaughter volumes because of COVID-19 led to a bottleneck in supply, which boosted prices. Retail beef and veal prices in June of 2020 were 25 percent higher than in June 2019. Much of this increase occurred after February of this year.

The retail prices of other commodities rose as well, including egg prices that were up 12 percent in June of this year compared to June 2019, while pork and poultry prices increased 11.8 and 8.7 percent, respectively.