TAMPA, Fla. - It's not your imagination. The overall price of groceries has gone up according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows a 2.6% increase in prices.
There has also been a 4.3% increase in proteins -- including meat, poultry, fish, and eggs -- just in the month of April.
That is the largest monthly increase in grocery store prices since 1974, according to the report.
Food brokers say the COVID-19 pandemic created a domino effect in the food industry.
First, consumers started "panic buying;" stocking up on grocery items, so stores began running out of things like toilet paper, flour, and ground beef.
"Normally if you use five pounds of ground beef in your house for the week, I'm seeing people buy 20 pounds, 30 pounds at a time," said Albert Piccolo, a manager of Good Earth Meat and Seafood. "A lot more people are turning to like, fish, shrimp, vegetables, and more vegan options as well because the beef, pork, and chicken is getting a lot harder to come by."
Then, manufacturing plants started closing for weeks at a time because thousands of workers were getting sick.
Brokers also say workers stopped showing up because they were afraid of getting sick, which slowed production.
Meanwhile, consumers were heading to the grocery stores and avoiding restaurants, which caused some supplies to dry up and others, like produce and milk suppliers, left with so much of their products, they had to throw it out.
Now, beef prices are at an all-time high, but experts hope the prices will return to normal during the summer.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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