How Inflation Changed the Price of a Hamburger
With inflation standing at 8.3% year-over-year in April, everyday items are becoming pricier for U.S. consumers. Food prices, in particular, took some significant steps up, as seen in the example of shopping for hamburger ingredients.
Meats experienced some of the highest price increases among food items: Ground beef now costs almost 15 percent more than in April 2021, and bacon is 17.7 percent more expensive than one year ago. On the other hand, the price of tomatoes was up just 0.4 percent over the course of one year, showing that some items suffered less inflation than others. At a 6.2 percent price increase, fresh vegetables as a whole saw the lowest rate of inflation of any food category.
Energy – the most volatile item in the Consumer Price Index, together with foods – drove overall price increases even more. In short supply following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and ensuing sanctions, energy costs rose by 30.3 percent since April 2021. This increase is independent of the base effect as energy prices had already reached pre-pandemic levels again one year ago.
Inflation had already started to rise in 2021 in the aftermath of Covid-19 lockdowns that continue to affect global supply chains. It was further pushed up by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which saw the energy supply disrupted by sanctions and Ukrainian products missing from world markets. As a result, inflation is reaching an increasingly broad range of products. For example, while the price of used cars and trucks had already skyrocketed in 2021, new vehicles have now also become 13 percent more expensive than they had been a year ago. Given the high price of gas and cars, inflation is indirectly encouraging another sustainable behavior – using public transportation. The category became 2.7 percent more expensive over the past year – a way smaller increase than most other spending categories.
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