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Friday, September 17, 2021

You may have noticed you're paying more for groceries in Austin — here's why

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You may have noticed you're paying more for groceries in Austin — here's why

AUSTIN (KXAN)– “I try to buy staples, like beans…” says Patricia Lopez as she goes through her groceries.

She’s shopping for a family of six, which has become a little pricier.

“I have seen the grocery prices go up and up and up steadily the last couple of years, but definitely I would say in the last six months it has gone up a lot,” she says.

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She’s not wrong — according to the latest Consumer Price Index Summary, released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Wednesday, all items have increased more over the past year than they have since the year 2007-2008.

Edward Anderson, UT McCombs School of Business professor, says we’re also seeing fewer discounts.

“Also, promotions are down. Sales prices, coupons, etcetera have dropped by about a third,” he says.

Anderson is also a supply chain expert. He says increasing gas prices are driving up already increasing transportation costs.

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In Austin, gas prices have gone up about 12 cents a gallon since last week.

Anderson says the pipeline is “not a huge problem itself because of large inventories, but it’s set off panic buying, which triggers price rises almost immediately because of futures markets.”

“Even if you forgot about gas for a moment, trucking prices are at the highest we’ve seen in at least five years,” he says.

He says the Lone Star State also plays a role– the winter storm slowed production of plastic for packaging and grain.

“Not only was grain destroyed that was growing here in Texas but a lot of it spoiled because our logistics went down; the trains and the trucks couldn’t move and so it all spoiled,” Anderson says.

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According to estimates from Texas A&M University, some of the crop losses Texas faced after Winter Storm Uri include at least $ 230 million in citrus crops and $ 150 million in vegetables.

Dairies were also forced to dump 14 million gallons of milk.

Anderson also notes that this is on top of lower wheat production — down two million tons in 2020-2021 compared to 2019-2020.

“Good fats like avocados, I’ll splurge on this stuff,” says Lopez as she pulls out a bag of them.

She’s decided to sacrifice junk food in order to afford her healthier groceries — an extra $ 100 a week.

“The sacrifice is miniscule compared to families that are actually struggling because of the pandemic, struggling because they don’t have a job,” she said.

Author: Tahera Rahman
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

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