Food prices increased by four percent between April and May, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
The Indiana Farm Bureau says the big issue with food prices increasing, isn’t a lack of supply, it’s a logistics problem. A sudden shift in demand during the coronavirus quarantine caught many suppliers off guard.
“70% of our bacon was consumed through restaurants,” Indiana Farm Bureau President Randy Kron says.
With restaurants and institutions shuttered, no one was using all that bulk meat, which would explain why beef prices skyrocketed at the grocery store.
“The packing plants had to package it differently, and they were not prepared to be doing that differently, to ship to grocery stores, and not to restaurants,” Kron says.
To make matters worse, cases of COVID-19 in Cass County spiked, causing the Tyson meat packing plant in Logansport to close for two weeks.
It’s not just meat; dairy and egg prices also increased in May.
“We actually had to switch our egg supplier, just because the cost was so outrageous” Owner of Healthy Harvest Market Johnathan Lawlor says.
Lawlor says he tried to do his best not to pass price increases down to customers at his Indianapolis store, many of whom are on fixed incomes.
“But I think panic drove up the cost of eggs, and that’s what’s kind of upsetting is American egg producers can produce so many eggs, eggs should be some of the most affordable proteins available,” Lawlor says.
But Kron says processing plants should be applauded for quickly pivoting from serving the food service industry, to serving grocery stores.
“This was a huge learning lesson for all of us, and I give credit. Everyone is pretty innovated and tried to adjust as quickly as possible, but it just takes time.”
The Indiana Farm Bureau anticipates food prices dropping, now that restaurants, schools and universities are slowly reopening.