Thursday, April 16, 2009

Grocery prices dropping? Really?

US News & World Report is reporting that "In March, the cost of food eaten at home -- everything from pasta to cereal to olive oil -- fell by 0.4 percent." I know that 0.4 percent isn't much, but--even so--I'm surprised and skeptical. My recent grocery-shopping experiences don't reflect that at all, but I have an idea why that is.

This is my theory: The "food and beverage index" is based on average retail prices. I only buy products on sale, and the sales haven't been as good lately. For example, I used to be able to stock up on boxes of elbow macaroni at 3/$1. Last time it was on sale, the sale price was 64 cents a box (from the regular price of $1.29). That's just one example, but the same principle applies to many other foods.

I think, though, that my theory only applies to my most-essential grocery items: pasta, dry beans, rice, fresh and canned vegetables, fresh fruits, canned tuna, orange juice, and so on. Snack foods--like ice cream, potato chips, and packaged cookies--have continued to be discounted frequently. For these items, we choose whichever brand is on sale at the moment or do without. My family may prefer one brand of ice cream over another, but we won't pay $5 for it!

What do you think? Is my theory on target or off base?

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