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Consumers blame COVID-19 for higher meat prices

In the first Consumer Food Insights survey, Americans were six times more likely to blame higher meat prices on pandemic-related shutdowns than to blame meatpackers, who the Biden administration blamed. Some 51% of respondents said COVID-19 shutdowns were the cause, compared with 8% who chose concentration and market power of meatpackers, according to the survey by the Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability at Purdue University.

“A majority of respondents, 51%, blamed COVID-related shutdowns for the increase in meat prices over the last year, but the top five causes also included labor shortages across supply chains, higher prices for animal feed, higher energy prices, and higher wages across supply chains,” said Purdue economist Jayson Lusk.

Participants in the survey said they expect food prices to rise by 4% in the year ahead. They rose by 6.3% during 2021, according to the government’s Consumer Price Index.

They also said they spent an average of $158.42 a week for food at home and away in January, an increase of 12% from the 2020 average of $140.71.

The Consumer Food Insights Survey is available here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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