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Food Costs Less
Old 07-28-2009, 03:34 PM   #1
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Food Costs Less

Interesting data here from the USDA: ERS/USDA Briefing Room - Food CPI and Expenditures: Table 7

So, if I'm reading this right, the cost of food has gone up in nominal dollars ever since the day they first started collecting data (1928). But as a percentage share of disposable income - it's steadily decreased.

Then there is this article that says snack food manufacturers have increased the size of their packaging, while keeping prices the same:
Quote:
Frito-Lay has begun offering its full lineup of chips in bags that are 20 percent larger than they were last year.

While pricing of the goods has been unchanged, the sizes of Doritos bags have jumped from 12 ounces to 14.5 ounces

Fritos now hold 17.5 ounces, compared to 14.5 ounces last year, and Cheetos bags now hold 10.25 ounces, compared to the previous 8.5 ounces.

Milt Weinstock, of The Snack Factory, said bags of pretzel crisps have grown 25 percent larger – from 7.5 ounces to 6 ounces. He said the larger bag sizes should be available through the end of the summer.
Slow Economy Allows Food Packaging To Grow - Health News - redOrbit

Edit to add: Using the BLS inflation calculator, the USDA prices for food have outpaced overall inflation as calculated by the BLS by a wide margin. About four times greater than inflation if the calculator is right.
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Old 07-28-2009, 03:42 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonidas View Post
Food costs less... But as a percentage share of disposable income - it's steadily decreased.

....
That Frito's larger package sounds sooooo goooood. Love it dipped into small curd cottage cheese with some 1/2 &1/2 added to make it more dippable.

I'm spending some of my other disposable income on a high-tech scale so I can join Wednesday weigh-ins.
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Old 07-28-2009, 08:30 PM   #3
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I'm spending some of my other disposable income on a high-tech scale so I can join Wednesday weigh-ins.
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Old 07-28-2009, 09:11 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Leonidas View Post
So, if I'm reading this right, the cost of food has gone up in nominal dollars ever since the day they first started collecting data (1928). But as a percentage share of disposable income - it's steadily decreased.
This stuff makes my head hurt. My first thought is that someone must've been messing with the definition or calculation of "disposable income", so it caused food to look cheaper.

But everything else I've read about food says that we don't have a production problem-- just a distribution problem. Food is supposedly more widespread today than ever before (just not necessarily in the right places) and we spend less time earning money to buy it, getting it, & prepping it.
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Old 07-29-2009, 02:11 AM   #5
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If food costs go down, how much higher would the national health care bill be, that already bankrupts us?
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Old 07-29-2009, 07:34 AM   #6
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If food costs go down, how much higher would the national health care bill be, that already bankrupts us?
Time for the fat tax.

Taxing the fat in your food - Jul. 28, 2009
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Old 07-29-2009, 10:19 AM   #7
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Modern food distribution/technology is truly something people my age take for granted. It's weird to hear my Dad talk about when he grew up all fruits and vegetables were truly seasonal, like if it wasn't apple season couldn't go to the grocery store and buy apples.

Sure some fresh stuff (especially smaller fruits like berries) still have seasonal availability but I couldn't imagine craving an apple or orange and not being able to drive to the grocery store and buy 'em for pretty cheap any time of the year.
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Old 07-30-2009, 07:37 AM   #8
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I don't buy chips of any kind so I can't speak with any authority about buying them. However, almost every major ice cream manufacturer (except Blue Bell) has decreased the size of their package and kept the price the say or higher. Try to find a half gallon container anymore. It has been decreased in size twice in the last 2-3 years. And we're talking a major food group here!
Like anything else you can spin to make your point.

Cheers!
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Old 07-31-2009, 11:53 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Leonidas View Post

Edit to add: Using the BLS inflation calculator, the USDA prices for food have outpaced overall inflation as calculated by the BLS by a wide margin. About four times greater than inflation if the calculator is right.
I compared 2008 and 1998. The BLS "food at home" went up 33%, while the USDA went up 55%. Is that what you meant?

If so, I think the difference is that the USDA is showing total spending, not prices. So population growth shows up in their numbers, but not in CPI numbers.

Another is change in mix. The CPI has prices for flour, cocoa, and frozen chocolate cakes. Those three individual prices may all go up by 33%, but as Americans do less home baking and more buying of prepared foods, the total they spend on "chocolate cakes" goes up faster than the price of either the ingredients or the frozen cake.

Reminds me of a comment from my Dad. He said that when he was a boy, food stores sold food. Now they sell services. He meant that he'd seen a big shift from selling ingredients to selling ready-to-eat meals.
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Old 08-01-2009, 02:22 PM   #10
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Since I retired, food prices for me have dropped
because I have the time to shop smarter and
buy when the items I use are on sale.

I have also found out that Wal-Mart isn't always
the cheapest... but since they take competitor
coupons, they can be.


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Old 08-01-2009, 04:05 PM   #11
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Noticed this the other day in Walmart. Their store brand soda was $.53 a quart three years ago. It was $.78 bottle last week.
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Old 08-01-2009, 05:22 PM   #12
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Quote:
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I compared 2008 and 1998. The BLS "food at home" went up 33%, while the USDA went up 55%. Is that what you meant?
I looked at different years I think, but basically, yes, that is what I was referring to.

The data I was looking at was an aggregate for the entire population, including a number for disposable income.
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Old 08-01-2009, 06:03 PM   #13
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Food here is still high priced. Argh!
I am realizing savings by some changes in shopping habits and utilizing the community discount food program (not income based) that I volunteer for. That alone has saved me a lot since Jan 09.
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Old 08-01-2009, 07:58 PM   #14
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My food bills have stayed the same for years but now that I am retired I shop at two stores . Publix for my regular shopping and I take advantage of their buy one get one free offers . I also shop at Albertson's for their loss leaders ( boneless chicken breasts $1.68 Large shrimp $4.99 a lb.). When I was working I could not be bothered to go to two stores but now I have the time .
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Old 08-02-2009, 09:45 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helena View Post
Since I retired, food prices for me have dropped
because I have the time to shop smarter and
buy when the items I use are on sale.

I have also found out that Wal-Mart isn't always
the cheapest... but since they take competitor
coupons, they can be.


~
Aldi blows away Walmart and all others in price. The selection is small, but we go there first, then Walmart. Chicken the other day for 49 cents a pound. A huge bag of Dorito type chips for the kids: 79 cents. I find everything to be at least 20% less, and often up to 75% less than Walmart. Walmart also has horrible quality, they have signs boasting about "Select" steaks... that's worse than "Choice". Since we started going to Aldi we've dropped our monthly food costs (not including eating out) by about 30%.
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Old 08-02-2009, 11:29 AM   #16
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Aldi blows away Walmart and all others in price. The selection is small, but we go there first, then Walmart. Chicken the other day for 49 cents a pound. A huge bag of Dorito type chips for the kids: 79 cents. I find everything to be at least 20% less, and often up to 75% less than Walmart. Walmart also has horrible quality, they have signs boasting about "Select" steaks... that's worse than "Choice". Since we started going to Aldi we've dropped our monthly food costs (not including eating out) by about 30%.

Aldi is going to open its first store here in my [Dallas] area later this year.

The grocery market in the North Texas area is very competitive, so the
sales here are good... and once Aldi opens, sales should be even better.

Does Aldi take competitor coupons ?


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Old 08-10-2009, 03:52 PM   #17
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I don't know if they take coupons, because frankly we tend to do better buying store brands there. Their prices are really low... and their entire model is based around that.

- When you get a shopping cart you put a quarter in the cart holder to get one. When you return the cart you get your quarter back. No need to pay someone to clear carts from the lots because everyone brings them back.

- You bring your own bags. Most things are on the shelf in the boxes they shipped in with the tops cut off.

- Lots of locally sourced items when possible.
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Old 08-10-2009, 07:07 PM   #18
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No Aldis in Hawaii, so now that we're in the Midwest, we've been spoiled by the low, low prices. Our impulse is to "stock up", but, of course, we can't fit much of it in a $15 suitcase for the trip back home. The difference is truly stunning. Some items cost (literally) a third of what we pay for every day (e.g., milk on loss-leader sale is $3.99 to $4.99 in Hawaii - Aldi has it for $1.50 to at most $1.99). Ice cream can top $7.00 for a "shrunken" half gallon (what, 1.75 quarts or maybe 1.57?). Aldis is $2.00 or less for icecream - "store brand" that's a gallon!!!! Maybe we'll lose weight when we go home in a few weeks, heh, heh.

But regarding OP, food prices in Hawaii have sky rocketed in the past year - BOTH nominal prices and the incredible, shrinking packages (e.g., the "scant" 1/2 gallon ice cream going from 2 quarts to 1.75 to 1.57, etc., etc.) We'll survive, but shopping in Hawaii becomes an exercise in "survivalism" - even when we go to Sams/Walmart/Costco etc. YMMV
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Old 08-10-2009, 07:10 PM   #19
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I noticed the price of milk being down to 99 cents a gallon on sale. There was an article in the paper saying that there was on oversupply.
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Old 08-10-2009, 07:30 PM   #20
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I noticed the price of milk being down to 99 cents a gallon on sale. There was an article in the paper saying that there was on oversupply.
That's 1/3 the price normally charged here.
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