Grocery costs skyrocket due to gas, corn prices

March 05, 2008 at 9:53 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

High gas prices may seem like they only affect a person's vehicle, but the increase is also causing havoc on everyday items that most residents need to survive.

That's because delivery companies have added a "fuel charge" to the cost of transporting the goods, and that is causing local grocery stores to increase their prices. Combine that "fuel charge" with already high food costs and you get an astronomical price hike.

"The prices have increased dramatically just in the last month," Mark Majoria, co-owner of Majoria’s, said. "I've got to drop my prices down on some items and just hope to break even."

Majoria cites coffee and cooking oil as two major examples.

"The price of cooking oil has gone up 40 percent since the beginning of the year and that's just crazy," he said. "Coffee went up 30 cents a pound at the beginning of the month and now, four weeks later, its up 30 cents more."

Majoria says that his suppliers have added a fuel charge of $3.50 for each stop they make. Different suppliers make a different amount of stops, but he says that some may have 50 or more a week.

"The charge is minimal, but it does add up," Majoria said. "It tightens me up because you have to be frugal with what you buy because you don't want to purchase something that's not going to sell. I wish everything cost a nickel and sold for a dime, but that's not the way it is."

Rising grocery prices are not unique to St. Charles Parish. Instead, it is an epidemic around the nation. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, prices of food purchased at the grocery store were 4.2 percent more expensive in 2007 than in 2006. The increase was the highest percentage jump since the 6.5 percent price hike recorded in 1990. And the average price of food and beverages increased by .7 percent again this month.

The price of food is not just going up because of increased fuel charges, but also because of the demand for ethanol. Ethanol, a clear, sugar-based alcohol that is being touted as an Earth-friendly solution to energy needs, has driven up the price of corn to nearly $4 a bushel, according to PBS' Newshour. Because corn is used in a variety of foods and keeps livestock fed, both beef and milk have risen sharply this year.

Now, the average price of ground chuck has increased from $2.63 a pound in January 2007 to $2.72 this past January. Chicken has also jumped from $1.03 a pound to $1.16 during that same span.

One of the biggest increases, however, has come from eggs. Eggs, which were $1.54 a pound in January 2007, are now $2.17 a pound.

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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