Consumer food report shows shopping habits remained steady throughout 2022, despite inflation
Food prices jumped throughout 2022—but shoppers’ habits remained fairly steady, according to a report by the Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability at Purdue University. Last year food prices went up by nearly 12% compared to 2021.
The survey, which was sent out to 1,200 people across the country, found people are spending 15% more of their monthly budget on food. Yet, people report little to no change in how they spend that money.
Sam Polzin, one of the report's co-author, said that’s a good thing.
“We're definitely more optimistic than we might have been in January if you had told us that food prices would continue to increase at like a 12% rate year over year at the grocery store,” Polzin said. “But there's a lot of uncertainty there as well.”
The report does highlight some people are shopping more at discount stores or switched to cheaper brands.
Food insecurity also stayed at relatively the same rate before the pandemic began and as inflation has gone up, about 11% across the U.S. and 10% in Ohio.
“The 15% increase in food spending this year is obviously a significant change and has drawn much interest in its cause and its effects,” Jason Lusk, a co-author of the report said. “But it is worth pointing out that our indicators like food security and food satisfaction have not similarly moved in any one direction, which is a good sign that wellbeing has likely not decreased on average.”
Polzin explains, although it is true many food banks have reported an uptick in the communities they serve, pandemic-era relief programs like the expanded federal child tax credit, SNAP emergency allotments—which will end next month in Ohio—and free school meals the first two years of the pandemic helped keep food insecurity rates low.
“Although it's sort of alarmingly high for the U.S. in the 10% to 15% range, depending on how you measure it, it looks like this rate hasn't increased despite food prices increasing at the grocery store.” Polzin said.
Polzin added the report might give food economists a snapshot of consumer food behaviors as inflation continues to loom in 2023.
Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Support for WYSO's reporting on food and food insecurity in the Miami Valley comes from the CareSource Foundation.