Food Continues to Get More Expensive

Eating continues to cost Americans more money. That’s even as overall inflation has backed off from the high pace of 2022 and 2023. Restaurant prices were up 5.1 percent last month compared to January 2023. U.S. Labor Department data shows that grocery store costs increased 1.2 percent during the same period.

Relief isn’t on the immediate horizon as restaurant and food company executives continue wrestling with higher labor costs and more expensive ingredients like cocoa. “If you look historically at the periods following inflation, there’s nothing that says food prices will go back down,” says Steve Cahillane of snack giant Kellanova. “They tend to be sticky.”

In 1991, government data shows consumers had spent over 11 percent of their disposable personal income on food. At the time, households were still dealing with steep food price increases following an inflationary period during the 1970s. Thirty years later, food spending is there again.