Meat eaters hit hardest as inflation sweeps US grocery aisles

Food inflation has been inching up for months, and consumers cite the cost of red meat as one of the primary factors. (Dreamstime/TNS)
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Anne Riley Moffat Bloomberg News (TNS)

Inflation is landing in America’s refrigerators — and it’s hitting meat-eaters most of all.

About one in three U.S. adults say they’re spending more on groceries than they were at the start of 2021, according to a Morning Consult survey of 2,200 U.S. adults conducted May 17 to 19 for Bloomberg News. Red meat was the ingredient cited most often for its higher prices, with chicken right behind.

Food inflation has been inching up for months, driven by soaring commodity costs, costlier transportation and challenges securing labor. Rising demand for meat, from home cooks as well as from the booming fast-food industry, has buoyed prices, too.

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“We’ve got these pockets of inflation without having corresponding wage growth, and that’s going to put consumers in a really tough spot,” Morning Consult economist John Leer said in an interview.

To save money on their rising grocery bills, about a quarter of U.S. shoppers say they have started buying fewer items overall during the pandemic, including less meat.

Rising grocery bills also appear to disproportionately impact shoppers of color. More than 40% of Hispanic and Black respondents reported higher grocery costs since the start of the year, while most White Americans reported no change in spending.

Leer said that’s likely because minority communities have been hit harder by the pandemic, including job cuts, meaning those shoppers are more likely to swap restaurant spending for more economical grocery shopping, resulting in higher grocery bills but lower overall food costs.

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