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Wisconsin families feel the squeeze as grocery prices continue to skyrocket

Economy Consumer Prices
Posted at 5:43 PM, May 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 21:06:19-04

APPLETON (NBC 26) — Inflation is hitting hard across the board: from home prices to rent, and particularly food costs. A new report is shedding light on the hefty bills Wisconsin families are facing at the grocery store.

  • New report highlights hefty grocery bills for Wisconsin families
  • Wisconsin families spend $220 weekly on groceries, 8% of total spending
  • Strategies to save money despite big grocery chains' profits

We spoke with a local expert who points out that while big grocery chains are raking in profits, there are strategies consumers can use to save money.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, grocery prices have skyrocketed by nearly 25%, according to the report by Trace One. In Wisconsin, families are spending an average of $220 per week on groceries alone, which accounts for 8% of a resident's total spending. And these numbers continue to climb.

Shopper, Lauren Horsath, says her grocery bills went from $150 dollars per week to more than $300. "It's extremely frustrating, especially our family's meant to eat pretty healthy, more organic and that tends to be even more expensive," she says. Jan Hughs, also from Appleton adds, "It is what it is if we want to eat then we need to pay the money.”

“How families are supposed to sustain like this, but you got to eat," Horsath adds

Despite some stabilization in supply chain issues post-pandemic, prices haven't followed. Kevin Hamm, co-owner of The Free Market in Appleton, gives his insights, "Realistically, some of the prices should have come back down." He says while the food business isn't highly profitable, big grocery stores will always find ways to minimize costs and pocket profits.

Inflation and rising labor costs are adding to the strain on consumers' wallets.

Craig Robbins with Paul’s Pantry in Green Bay says they’ve seen a 33% surge in demand compared to pre-pandemic levels. Serving more than 240 people per day, it’s highest level in 40 years.

To mitigate the impact on family budgets, Hamm advises consumers to shop efficiently. Buying in bulk, opting for cheaper cuts of meat, minimizing food waste, and supporting local producers are effective strategies.

Buying local not only supports the community but also ensures a steady supply chain, as Hamm explains, "We didn't have the outages at the grocery stores did because we have over 100 local farms and companies that supply us."

Hamm also says organic food prices have not risen the same way non-organic food options, narrowing the margin between the two. Offering an upside to those seeking healthier more sustainable food choices amid these rising costs.