PracticalDad Price Index:  Food Prices Up, Sugar Completes the Stealth Rise

The data is in and compiled for the September reading of the PracticalDad Price Index and as of the most recent sampling, the cost of the 47 item grocery market basket rose to 107.5 (November 2010 = 100); strip out the ten non-food items in the marketbasket and the index for the 37 food items alone rose to 111.67 (November 2010 = 100).  The change from August is:

Month/Year            Total Index            Food-only Index

11/10                      100                       100

8/12                        106.68                  110.88

9/12                        107.50                  111.67         

Sugar completed its course of stealth inflation through the three sampled grocery stores (all unrelated to one another with their own generic brands) as the third generic brand of sugar was also downsized from the standard five pound bag to a four pound bag.  As always, I’ve adjusted the price per four pound bag to reflect what it would cost comparatively at five pounds to account for the package size decrease.

Approximately a month ago, the New York Times ran an article forecasting food price rises due to the effects of the 2012 drought and much of it pertained to the drought’s effect upon the corn crop.  But corn isn’t only used for animal feed, but also cooking oil and biofuel and the drought will also affect other crops, particularly soy and wheat and these will rattle through the economy as we move forward.  Given the level of oil prices, there will probably be a double whammy on cooking oil as these variants are also used in biofuels which are already affected by oil and gas prices.  As sugar prices rise, despite the nominal decrease because of package downsizing, expect to see further increases in all foods which contain some degree of sugar, such as breakfast cereals, pastries and baked goods, and other dessert foods.

If there’s any question about the ongoing conditions, I’m writing this with a standard size (12 ounce) can of Spam next to my laptop.  The product, produced by Hormel Foods, is now celebrating its 75th anniversary and is one of the principal reasons that Hormel Foods Corporation saw strong sales growth in the last quarter.  The expiration date on the bottom of the can says Best By April 2015 and I can only presume that sales are being driven both by those who are stocking up as well as the increasing number of families on Food Stamp benefits who are seeing their protein sources slowly priced out of their range. 

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