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As food prices rise, local grocer shares tips on how to save money

Posted at 5:54 PM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 00:00:46-05

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (WXYZ) — When it comes to making ends meet these days, everything is on the chopping block from cable to the weekly grocery bill. Food at home is now 6.5% more expensive.

So how do families do it week to week?

We are doing a whole series on this very topic and Tuesday night, WXYZ is tackling the cost of a few staples you cannot live without from the grocery store and the alternatives you may want to consider saving money.

Like so many shoppers during the pandemic Marianne Nagrant must choose carefully. She is tired and living on a set income with a household of three.

“People are even struggling to make ends meet, especially with groceries. What are you doing?” WXYZ’s Carolyn Clifford asked.

“Being more careful about what I choose to purchase. I'm not going to choose the most expensive meats,” Nagrant said.

In January of this year, U.S. meat prices grew compared to just a year ago. Beef prices soared by 30%, pork by 11% and bacon is through the roof too.

“So, Oscar Meyer bacon is really the most expensive on the market, wouldn't you say?“ Clifford asked.

“Yes, and so a package like this used to be $5.99 to $6.99 and today, $10.99. They're still buying it because everything else went up,” said Phil Kassa, owner of Heartland Marketplace in Farmington Hills.

Kassa has been in the grocery business for 45 years. He says he's never seen anything like this.

One choice he's offering his customers is a cheaper beef from Mexico. These steaks are by Sukarne.

“It's roughly 40 to 50 percent cheaper than the choice,” Kassa said.

What is driving the meat prices up are plant closures and disruptions in the supply chain because of the pandemic. Meat processing plants reduced capacity or completely shut down for weeks because workers were infected with the coronavirus.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, meat prices in 2022 are expected to get a little cheaper, excluding breakfast sausages, which are scarce.

“Why is the supply chain so interrupted when it comes to sausage? They are saying they don't have the labor to do it,” Kassa said.

Meantime, many other staples are getting more expensive like produce.

“So, head lettuce is normally pretty reasonable, but this price has gone up, yes, by how much used to be 99 cents to $1.29. Now, it's $1.99 and last week, $2.99,” Kassa said.

It's so high in fact due to weather and supply chain issues that people are opting for bagged lettuce instead, which used to be much more expensive.

“They've gone up roughly 20 cents less than 10% where the other stuff is up 50%,” Kassa said.

The price of oranges and tangerines is up 8.9% and a disease called citrus greening in Florida will only make matters worse.

So, the price of orange juice is going to go up.

If you can find staples like orange juice, it will cost you a lot more — about $4 for a gallon. The cheaper option may be the generic frozen OJ that you mix yourself.

Bread and dairy also expected to jump in 2022, according to supermarket executives.

When it comes to potatoes, a lot of people like the Idaho brand. But when you're counting pennies when you are grocery shopping, a Michigan potato verses Idaho could make a dollar difference.

That is for a five-pound bag. Potato prices are up 4.9%. Glenda Banks says she drives all the way from Novi to shop in Farmington Hills because of the prices.

“You buy store brands verses name brands?” Clifford asked.

“Yes, a lot of the store brands are very comparable to the name brands and I'm actually saving,” Banks said.

So, remember a few of the tips we gave you: Go with a cheaper meat, buy store brands over name brands, do price comparisons and use coupons.

Also, the President Joe Biden Administration recently unveiled a plan that includes investing $1 billion to boost competition in the meat industry and could help reduce prices in the long term.