As humans, eating is a necessity, but how did it become so pricey? We’ve all had a similar experience of walking into a store for a few items, and walking out with a receipt longer than our grocery list. Food adds up quickly, especially so if you tend to choose more organic or high-end products. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, it’s predicted that food prices will increase between 1% and 2% in 2019. What exactly is causing food prices to rise?

There are a lot of aspects that come into play when causing food price inflation, and many are not what you’d expect. As explained by the process of supply and demand, when there is a higher demand for a certain product, prices will rise, and this can simultaneously be effected by outside stressors.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Due to the unpredictable weather that global warming creates, this can strip away resources for crop production. As demands for these products increase, and the ability of farmer’s to fulfill agricultural production declines, prices will rise.

BIOFUELS

Marketed as an environmentally friendly way to generate fuel, using crops such as corn as biofuel actually has negative effects on food prices. The high demand of corn for biofuel leaves a small amount for those corn-lovers at home, thus raising the prices in grocery stores. According to The Balance, America uses 40% of its corn crop to
make ethanol.

WORLDLY DISASTERS

Unpredicted devastating disasters, such as earthquakes, tsunamis and floods where there is absolutely no way to plan for such an event can cause destruction to crops and make an impact on food prices all over the world. The 2011 tsunami in Japan caused seafood prices to rise by 5.9%, apples increased by 9.6% and potatoes by 12%.

DISEASE

In the case when there is an outbreak such as mad cow disease or the avian flu, but our demand for dairy, meat and eggs is constant, consequently we’ll see these products get more expensive. In 2015, the avian flu killed 10% of America’s hens, which caused a 40% price increase on eggs all over the world. Making sure that animals are properly taken care of in a humane way might prevent these outbreaks.

Food prices won’t stop rising anytime soon, which negatively impacts the consumer, — some more than others. It’s important to shop smart and be mindful of the multiple factors that impacts the way we get our food. Prices may continue to grow, but that doesn’t mean our wallets have to shrink.

STAYING PREPARED

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the amount of money spent on food not cooked at home, versus at home, has risen 94% since 2003. This is completely understandable, as just seeing your grocery bill would make anyone opt for take-out. Due to the fact that no one can truly see what the future holds, there are ways to prepare for rising prices in the future.

  • Buy your favorite dry, nonperishable items that will last for an extended time in your pantry when they are reasonably priced.
  • Practice growing your own fruits and vegetables, or, if you have the space and the proper way to care for it, get a hen to make your own eggs.
  • Many grocery stores offer an influx of coupons, buy-one-get-one-free items and sales. Keep track of these discounts, and make a note of everything that you buy.
  • Do an inventory of your kitchen every time you leave the house to make sure you’re not buying double of something you already have.
  • It’s okay to buy items in bulk, but only if you know they won’t go to waste.
  • Support Gainesville’s local farmers and buy fresh food at your nearby farmer’s market. These prices are usually lower than grocery store prices.