Rising Food, Gas Prices Put Squeeze on Consumers
A government report shows food prices jumped last month and there's concern the trend may continue. That, coupled with rising gas prices, is forcing many families to find new ways to stretch their budget.
Gekima Robinson likes to cook bacon for her kids, especially on important test days. But she hasn't purchased much lately.
"That pack here used to be $5. Now it's $10 almost," she said.
Rising food prices are also putting a dent in what used to be a profitable breakfast business at Norma's Café.
"We're looking at record prices from beef, bacon, orange juice and eggs," café owner Bill Ziegler said.
Analysts say bad weather -- including record-setting drought in California, Brazil, Mexico, and West Africa -- has factored into rising food prices.
Tensions between Ukraine and Russia are also contributing to higher grocery bills. That's because Ukraine exports substantial amounts of corn, wheat, and sunflower oil to the United States.
The Consumer Price Index released Tuesday showed food prices rose by .4 percent in March compared to overall prices, which rose .2 percent.
The biggest increases are being seen in eggs, milk, butter, oranges, pork, ground beef, and poultry.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts food prices will rise between 2.5 and 3.5 percent this year. But many analysts say it could be worse than predicted.
In addition, higher prices at the pump are hitting many consumers.
The average price for gas nationally rose to $3.69 a gallon, up nearly 10 cents in the past two weeks and 4 percent from a year ago.
"I'm not happy because I travel an hour to work. But I gotta deal with it I guess," one motorist said.
Analysts say U.S. refiners are shipping more gas to other countries, increasing global competition for U.S.-produced fuel.
Consequently, prices may not come down anytime soon. That's tough news for many Americans who are eager to hit the road this summer after being cooped up during a record-setting cold winter.