Americans paid more for groceries in pandemic 2020, study finds

The USDA says grocery store food prices rose by 3.5% compared to a year before.
Grocery shopping

Did it feel like your weekly shop cost you more last year? Well, it was.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed grocery store prices higher than usual in 2020.

Over the past 20 years, grocery store food prices have risen at a rate of about 2% a year. Last year? It was 3.5%.

The USDA's review of grocery prices found that every "food-at-home" category rose in cost except for fresh fruits, which fell by 0.8% "because of domestic and international shifts in supply and demand."

That's because the various "stay at home" orders in the likes of India, China, and Taiwan "created port delays and staffing issues in the produce supply chain." As a result, American fruit exports fell, creating more supply domestically.

By contrast, meat prices saw the largest price increases in 2020. Beef and veal was up 9.6%, pork was up 6.3%, poultry rose by 5.6% and "other meat" rose by 4.4%.

This is more than double what these food categories typically increase by in a year, and the cause of the rise was the various COVID-19-related meat processing plant closures, which notably had an impact on plants in South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota.

Screen Shot 2021-03-19 at 11.16.30 AM

"Meat prices had not experienced this level of inflation since 2014, when drought and high feed prices combined to drive up retail prices," the USDA notes.

With restaurants and schools across the country closing due to "stay at home" orders, there was increased demand for several food products at grocery stores as a result. 

As well as meat, there were also significant increases in the prices of eggs, dairy, and non alcoholic drinks.

The last time that grocery food price inflation was as high as 3.5% was back in 20111, when a combination of poor weather, high fuel prices, international trade disruptions, and low commodity harvests impacted global food prices.

Next Up

Kirill Kaprizov

Wild score 5 unanswered goals to sweep Sharks

The Sharks scored first but the Wild stormed back in a 5-2 victory.

Rocco Baldelli

Twins-Angels postponed Saturday and Sunday due to COVID

Outfielder Kyle Garlick and one other player tested positive on Saturday.


Curfew set at 11 p.m. in Brooklyn Center, Champlin Saturday

More protests are expected in Brooklyn Center.

Image from iOS (1)

Victim killed in multi-vehicle crash that closed Hwy. 62 ID'd as woman, 23

The four-vehicle crash closed the eastbound highway for several hours.

protest, Daunte Wright, Brooklyn Center

Photographer reports being maced and punched by police, other journalists detained

It came just hours after a court order prevented law enforcement from using force against the news media.


Police move in swiftly to make arrests on 6th night of Daunte Wright protests

What started out peaceful took a turn as the night drew in.


Aldi's aggressive expansion continues as it opens latest Twin Cities store

It's on track to have the most grocery stores in the metro area.

Lunds & Byerlys plans new store, apartments on Grand Avenue

The grocery chain plans to open what would be its 29th store.

Family Fresh

Family Fresh closure leaves Farmington without a grocery store

Farmington's only grocery store closed on Friday.

Screen Shot 2019-07-02 at 10.32.46 PM

Grocery store products from MN win People Food Awards

It follows the blind tasting of more than 1,200 grocery store products.

Screen Shot 2020-09-02 at 9.28.48 AM

Target announces expansion of its Good & Gather food range

The store's own brand has become its biggest seller in grocery.