As the heat index rises, so will your grocery bill this summer.
It’s all thanks to Mother Nature, who has been doing a number on our food supply. Ongoing droughts have bumped up prices for produce and produced a trickle-down effect on meat, since feeding cattle has become costlier. At the same time, a virus has been plaguing pigs across the nation, spiking prices on pork.
It’s not a pretty picture just as barbecue season goes into full swing. But you can still find ways to grocery shop on a budget, especially if you know where to expect the hikes.
So we tapped an agricultural economist to help us figure out which food prices will be on the uptick—and then asked a pair of consumer experts for tips and tricks on how to keep spending down on summer food staples.
Grocery Price Creep: Which Foods Will Cost More?
If your backyard barbecue normally includes a few T-bones and filet mignons, you may have to rethink picking up those pricey cuts. According to Dr. Christopher Hurt, an agricultural economist at Purdue University, beef supplies are expected to drop 5% in 2014—and the number of beef cow herds is at its lowest since 1962. Add to that a five-year drought in the central and southern plains that raised cattle feed prices, and you have a recipe for a costly steak.
“Retail beef prices at grocery stores averaged a record $5.29 per pound in 2013,” Hurt says. “I expect that to be $5.63 a pound this year—nearly a 7% increase.”
O.K., so you’ll just throw some hot dogs on the grill instead. Not so fast. A porcine virus has resulted in the deaths of more than 6 million young pigs since it was identified in 2013. “Last year, [pork] prices were $3.64 a pound,” Hurt says. “I expect those to average $3.90 a pound this year, which is also a 7% increase.”