What’s the beef about food prices?

April 20th, 2009 at 5:47 pm by under Your Money

“Why are you making so much fuss about food prices? “a member of my family asks.  For the past month, I’ve done several reports on food prices, first comparing prices among the various grocers.  Tonight, we look to see if a retailer could be even WalMart’s prices.

Food prices are compelling simply because so much of the family budget goes to paying for food.  Most consumers became aware of the fact when gas prices skyrocketed last year and there was less change in the purse to buy other stuff, like bread and milk.  I looked at my own personal budget and found my yearly bill for food was exceeding $11,000 a year!

Until now, I paid no attention to food prices.  Sure, I noticed when things went on sale, and I’d stock up.   If I saw the same item elsewhere for 30 or 40 cents less, it didn’t really bother me.  Time and convenience were more important.  I shopped in places where I could get in and out quickly.  I also liked the little services,  like someone carrying my bags to the car.

But then retirement funds plunged and more friends of mine were losing jobs.  I decided it was time to pay attention to food price and so I’ve been on a mission.  My goal is to trim at least $2000 off my food bill this year and if the surveys we presented mean anything, it is possible to do that.

Tonight, you will see how the lowest priced grocer we found is nearly 48 percent lower than the highest priced grocer in our survey.   On my grocery bill, that’s a savings of nearly $5000 a year.   But like everything in life, there is trade-off.  There are some brands I simply cannot give up.  The deep discounters don’t carry everything I need or want, so then I have to evaluate the loss in time I’ll suffer going from store to store.

I think it’s worthwhile to pay at least one visit to the deep-discounters, just to see what you don’t get that you’re really paying for everywhere else (someone has to be paid to collect your cart in the parking lot!)

3 Responses to “What’s the beef about food prices?”

  1. Tim says:

    Have you ever considered buying food right from the farm. We sell freezer meat and it is a huge expense to buy it from the store. Even at that point you are not sure what you are getting! Buying from the farm keeps the money local, ensures a quality product you can see, and helps keep money in your pocket.

  2. Gary says:

    Ms. Schrieber,
    I am very disappointed that you started this story with the misrepresentation that so much of a family budget goes for food. Nothing could be farther from the truth in the U.S. On average, a family only spends 10 percent of its disposable income on food. This average includes the cost of food purchased at restaurants. When we compare this with 25% in Europe and 50% in India as examples of others around the world, we complain with our mouths full.
    We are able to do this incredible job on food with only 2% of our population involved in agriculture.
    Too often this discussion does not celebrate our ability to lead the world in many areas of food production.

  3. ,..] blogs.woodtv.com is other great source of information on this subject,..]

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