The World Bank reports that commodities have jumped in price since last June. Wheat has doubled. Others, like corn and sugar, have gone up more than 70%. In response, food corporations including Kraft and Kellogg announced that they’d be raising prices on as many as half of their products. Grocery shoppers everywhere are already feeling the crunch.
At the Associated grocery store in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, shopper Ida Collazo had heard about the commodity increase. She came for fish sticks and cake.
“Like before I could buy with $10, I could come home with 2 bags 3 bags at most, now it’s one bag. So it went up a lot,” Collazo says.
To keep her grocery bills down, Collazo bargain-shops around the neighborhood.
“Even if you have to walk ten blocks, you know, if they’re selling something cheaper, you’re going over there,” she says. ” You know, just walk. You get exercise too.”
Collazo says she understands that when commodities go up, prices have to as well. Adam Laufer is a Vice President at Associated.
“That’s something that’s not you know under our control,” he says. “ You know, we have to make a living also. It’s not, you know, that you make a fortune just on a can of peas.”
That said, Laufer suggests that buying generics – Associated Cereal, just for example – instead of brand-name products is a way of getting around some of the price hikes.
“You’re just not paying for the packaging, you’re not paying for the tv or cable advertising, or you know big huge billboards over the Holland tunnel, you know, pushing their products,” Laufer says.
Most people don’t realize how little food itself costs, says James Dunn, an agricultural economist at Penn State University.
“If you buy cornflakes for example, the cost of the corn in cornflakes is a very small amount of the price,” he says.
Even so, Dunn says he expects to see a 5% increase in food prices thanks to this commodity hike. He says that means that for every hundred dollars you spend on groceries, you’ll now be spending an extra five.
“Donald Trump will hardly notice it,” he says. “But there are plenty of people who are unemployed right now or just getting by, and they’ll notice it.”
Dunn himself admits he doesn’t have first hand knowledge of this because his wife does the shopping. But even households like his might not be immune. Take someone who earns $50,000 a year and spends $30,000 on rent. In New York City, that’s a big chunk of the middle class, says Joel Berg, who heads the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. He says all New-Yorkers pay a lot for necessities.
“Fuel, your metro card, your clothing, that rare rare entertainment – god knows how much movies cost – you’re definitely going to feel it hard in your wallet that there’s a 5% increase,” berg says.
Berg runs the city’s 1200 soup kitchens and food pantries and says the increased traffic there has been lower-income people. But he says the 5% percent hike in food prices will bring more people in the doors.