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What to Do About Rising Food Prices

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - Over the past couple of years, there has been price increases on just about every possible type of food commodity.

 The US Department of Agriculture released their Food Price Outlook Tuesday, and it forecasts a jump in grocery prices.

The all-food component of the Consumer Price Index was forecast to rise 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent in 2014,- compared with only a 1.4 percent in food inflation this past year. 

Farm eggs were expected to rise 4 percent to 5 percent in 2014.

Beef, veal and poultry are expected to rise 3 to 4 percent this next year. 

Fats. oils, cereals and bakery products are expected to show prices up 1.5 to 2.5 percent in 2014, the Food Price Outlook said.

The USDA forecast mirrors larger trends in the Consumer Price Index, released earlier this week:  
  • Chicken is up 18.4 percent
  • Ground beef is up 16.8 percent
  • Bacon has skyrocketed up 22.8 percent,

Overall the government's CPI report says prices are up 6.4 percent since 2011.

"Our weather conditions," says Phil Lempert of "We've had more snows, more hurricanes, more natural disasters around the globe than ever before. All of that has an effect on prices, and if we take a look at the FDA and USDA projections over the next 20 years, it's just going to go up and up and up."

Lempert's site preaches smarter shopping, which he says can alleviate some of the pains that come with higher prices
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How do you deal with rising grocery costs?
I just pay it! Not much I can do!
( 26% )
I cut back on the "extras"!
( 25% )
I buy sale items and use coupons more!
( 49% )

Exclusive WBEN Audio
On The WBEN Liveline

Tracie Fobes, Penny Pinchin

 Meg Major, Editor, Progressive Grocer

 Kevin Darrington, Chief Operating Officer, Tops Markets

ON AIR NEXT @ 8:20- Phil Lempert, Supermarket

. Lempert says that currently, Americans just aren't taking the time to shop smart.

"The average person takes just 22 minutes to go up and down the aisles of that store, and a supermarket, on average, is about 45-50,000 square feet. That means that every product has about 1/64th of a second to attract your attention," Lempert says.

By not taking the time to look at all of the available products, Lempert says consumers are missing out on potential bargains. He says there are ways to save cash while shopping for food though, including clipping coupons, buying store brands, and perhaps most importantly, shopping around.

"Go to drug chains that are now about 50 percent food. Go to places like Save-A-Lot, hit up Target, Wal-Mart." Lempert says that the lowest prices on milk can sometimes be found in drug-stores like CVS or Rite-Aid. "Also what are the items that are good that you might buy in a dollar store? When you go in to a dollar store, you don't know what's going to be there, and you might find a great buy."

Lempert also says that there are many apps that can help you not only plan meals, but will also tell you where to get ingredients at the lowest cost. The idea is to always be conscious of where you might find that next deal.

food-prices-bread.jpgDo alll the government numbers reflect real life in the Supermarket?

NEW YORK (CBS)  - Writer Jen Singer, the mother of two teenage boys, wrestles with her grocery list every week to keep the household budget from getting away from her.

"I'd like the government to stop by my house, come food shopping with me and see where the real costs are," she said.

The adage "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is impossible thanks to apple prices, she said.

"We go through one of these every few days," she said, holding a loaf of bread. "It's a big part of my take home pay."

It's is not her imagination. While the government says prices are up 6.4 percent since 2011, chicken is up 18.4 percent, ground beef is up 16.8 percent and bacon has skyrocketed up 22.8 percent, making it a holiday when it's on sale.

food-prices-beef.jpg"Oh my god!" Singer said as she spied bacon for $3.

"The things that are going up in price are the things I absolutely need to buy," she said. "It's the meat, it's the milk, it's the eggs and it's getting out of hand."

ConvergEx market strategist, Nick Colas, said that mothers could tell the government a lot about inflation.

"Food inflation is far greater than the government thinks it is," he said.

But the big problem for families:  Wages are not budging.

"If my income isn't going up, how am I going to keep up with inflation?" Singer asked.

Median income is up only 1 percent a year.  For Singer, that makes it hard to save for college tuition - which has been rising 6 percent to 8 percent every year for five decades.

"The price of college is terrifying and so we're looking at cheaper schools or scholarships, I hope," she said. "You know, 'Run faster in track.' That will really help me out a lot."

 Many are concerned that while economists paint a benign picture, middle-class families are quietly struggling.

"The disconnect is severe, because it's the economists that make policy but it's the people who have to live with the outcome of that policy and that disconnect is growing to the point where I think it has to break soon," Colas said.

To economize, Singer keeps the heat down in the house.

"We might as well wear a parka around here because it is the only way I can save money on heating," she said.

As the costs go higher and the budget battle continues, every now and then she finds something at a great price.

A victory.

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Locations : BuffaloNew York
People : Jen SingerMeg MajorNick ColasPenny Pinchin MomPhil Lempert
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