Here’s What Groceries Cost More Because of COVID-19 (and What Cost Less)

updated Jun 15, 2020
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As anyone who has gone to the grocery store to get their usual list of stuff knows, the recent months of COVID-19 have thrown the relatively stable and reliable prices at American grocery stores into surprising price fluctuations. But, reports CNN, it’s not all gloom and doom for budget-savvy shoppers: While the cost of certain categories of food have skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic, other items have gone in the other direction.

Overall, the price of food rose one percent in May (much of which the article attributes to the single biggest category to get more expensive: meat). Outbreaks of coronavirus in meat plants had an immediate and direct effect on the price in stores, with beef and veal rising 10.8%. Particularly whole cuts rose the most, with roasts going up nearly 20% and pork chops going up 8.4%. Maybe it’s time to consider adding a little more fish to the menu; seafood prices pretty much stayed the same. Of course, you could also just be careful about what meat you buy, as bacon prices were also steady.

While meat had the most obvious changes in price and for the most obvious reason, other items went up smaller, but still significant amounts, with breakfast cereal; grains like rice, pasta, and cornmeal; and salt all going up between 1 and 2%. In the produce department, tomatoes were almost 2% more expensive. The pandemic pantry favorites saw the other big climb: The cost of dried beans, peas, and lentils rose by almost 5%. Other items that have kept people comforted in recent months also saw a spike: Ice cream was up 2.5%, while cake and cupcakes were up 1.8%.

But don’t moan the state of the store quite yet — especially if you’re looking for morning meals. Egg prices fell almost 5%, bread almost 2%. Coffee, citrus, and breakfast sausages all got cheaper, too. And while cakes were going up, cookie prices shrank.