Grocery prices are on the rise no matter where you shop in New Jersey.
It’s been a trend since the start of the pandemic, and national and international news continues to tug on buyers’ purse strings.
“The price increases seen by customers are across the retail industry and are due to a variety of factors, including a reduced workforce, supply chain issues, growing demand for goods and rising fuel prices,” said Linda M. Doherty, president and CEO of the NJ Food Council.
A year before the pandemic hit, we did our own shopping experience and compared prices at 4 grocery store chains across the state. At the time, the 13 items on our list cost anywhere from around $34 at Aldi to more than double that at Wegman.
But how have prices evolved since then? We took the same shopping list to Wegman’s, Whole Foods, Aldi and ShopRite in North Jersey, Central Jersey and South Jersey to see how the prices stacked up.
Here is what we bought:
- Half a gallon of milk
- 5 oz packet of Spring Mix
- dozen large eggs
- 32 oz. full bag of rice
- pound of bacon
- 16 oz. margarine
- 10 oz ground coffee
- CEREALS with bran
- Solid white tuna in water
- 1 pound chicken breast
- 16 oz. whole milk mozzarella cheese
- loaf of whole grain bread
- 16 oz. Peanut Butter
Eggs were the only item that rose in price across the board, across all four stores. Milk and mozzarella cheese were up in three out of four stores.
Here’s what else we found:
Total bill 2019: $37.37
Total bill 2022: $43.88
Eight of the 13 items have increased in price since 2019 – milk, spring mix, eggs, bacon, bran cereal, chicken breast, mozzarella cheese and bread.
And in most cases, the price jumps were quite noticeable. Milk was up more than a dollar at $3.8, spring mix by 79 cents at $2.29 and bacon was almost double the price at $8.49 for a smaller package.
Cheese, chicken and bread all went up by at least $1 each.
Total bill 2019: $52.28
Total bill 2022: $63.85
Six of the 13 items rose in price – milk, eggs, tuna, mozzerella cheese, bread and peanut butter. The biggest increases we saw were for eggs (available only as brown eggs), which went from $2.99 to $4.49. And a 16oz container of peanut butter went from $2.49 to $4.19. Bread also went up a whole dollar.
Total bill 2019: $31.41
Total bill 2022: $32.07
Four of the 13 items rose in price – milk, eggs, chicken breasts and bacon. And those that did were minor increases – 29 cents more for milk, now $2.48 for a gallon; eggs only 1 cent more for $1.60. Chicken and bacon, however, increase by $1 or more.
Surprisingly some items went down which kept the bill pretty stable. Bran cereal was 20 cents less and a loaf of whole grain bread was half what it was in 2019 at just 66 cents.
Total bill 2019: $38.18
Total bill 2022: $38.97
Six of the 13 items have gone up in price – spring mix is up 49 cents, eggs 70 cents, margarine now 60 cents more, coffee $1, tuna 30 cents more and cheese from 30 cents more.
But some items have come down in price — milk, bacon, chicken breast was $1 less per pound, and a loaf of bread was pennies less.
Prices continue to rise and the Russian-Ukrainian crisis is also having an impact.
Russia and Ukraine account for 29% of the global wheat export market, affecting prices and availability of wheat-related products, according to IMF, the Food Industry Association, an industry advocacy group selling retail of $800 billion.
Russia is also a major supplier of fertilizers to global agriculture, which affects the costs of raw materials like corn, wheat and soybeans. And when those prices rise, the products they’re used to make, such as bread and pizza dough, also rise, according to a Food Industry Association fact sheet.
“Rising corn and soybean prices also increase the price of livestock feed, which in turn drives up the cost of meat products.”
The price of gas is also expected to have an impact on food prices, as agriculture and food production depend on energy.
“Rising energy prices could have an impact on the cost of food in the short and long term. The continued increase in gasoline prices will impact transportation costs in the near future and increase the cost of feed, fertilizer and other products, although these increased costs will not be felt by consumers for several weeks or months,” the food industry said. says the association.
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Allison Pries can be reached at [email protected].