How to Save Time and Money Food Shopping
From Consumer Reports: Burt Flickinger III, managing director at Strategic Resource Group, a retail consulting company based in New York, notes that the Russia-Ukraine war has not only raised U.S. gasoline prices—it significantly impairs imports of grain and fertilizer from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, which affects this year’s crops.
“If farmers let their fields go fallow because they can’t get fertilizer, that’s going to depress the supply and increase prices for food that much more, especially for grains, fruits, and vegetables,” Flickinger says. As a result, he expects consumers could see additional increases in grocery prices—perhaps another 15 percent—by early fall. “For at least the next year, people are going to have to strategize to save money on groceries,” Flickinger says.
Also: More than a dozen grocers around the country received high marks for price competitiveness in Consumer Reports’ survey-based ratings of grocery stores and supermarkets. (Flickinger gives a particular shoutout to membership clubs BJ’s and Costco, which, in addition to keeping their inventories high at a time when most grocers are struggling to fill shelves, are keeping price increases lower, thanks to the big volume discounts they receive from suppliers.) If you can get into, or know someone with access to, the Department of Defense’s Commissary, take advantage. Commissary, which serves active and retired military personnel, strictly limits its markups. (Eligibility to this nationwide grocer was expanded in January 2020.)
And: Manufacturers of store-brand products—also called private label—are having some of the same supply-chain problems finding raw materials that brand manufacturers are having, Flickinger says. Nonetheless, when you can find store-brand foods and beverages, they can cost 20 to 25 percent less than name brands of the same product. (When CR members were surveyed about the grocery stores and supermarkets they liked best, three grocers earned top marks for their store brands: national names Costco and Trader Joe’s, and Central Market, which is based in San Antonio and is a subsidiary of the privately owned H-E-B supermarket chain.) You can often find store brands on shelves just to the right or left of comparable name-brand items.