Gas prices make impact on grocery costs

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) Just how much do gas prices impact our groceries, and what can you do to save?

As gas prices continue to soar, they impact the cost of virtually everything, including your grocery bill.

So how much are we really paying for groceries because of higher gas prices and how can you save? WMBF News Anchor Michael Maely hit the shopping aisles to find out.

"My grocery bill last month was over $1,000, and I just about died when I saw it, that was roughly $200 more than I normally pay per month, it really adds up. I'm supposed to keep a calculator with me, but I forgot it today," said Piggly Wiggly of Market Common shopper Donna Grim.

"It's very frustrating," said Ashley Binninger, another Piggly Wiggly shopper.

We grabbed a shopping kart and set out to see how much a week's worth of Ashley's groceries run.

"I shop for me, my husband, our two and a half year old daughter and our dog, and it really has started to add up," Binninger said.

In the past year, food experts say most of what Ashley and everyone else buys, has gone up as much as 10 percent, largely because of gas prices.

And it seems no food, nor grocery store is immune.

"Dairy, meat, your produce, depending on where it's coming from, what country, what nation, peanut butter coffee, things that go for long distances as far as transportation's concerned, said Michael Byrd, Piggly Wiggly Store Operator at the Market Common.

Byrd says Piggly Wiggly is the only local grocery chain in South Carolina, so getting some of their items locally can help reduce transportation costs. But there are still limits.

"I just bought 2 organic peppers, and they were 6 something a pound," said Donna Grim.

"You're obviously not gonna stop, eating healthy?" asked WMBF News Anchor Michael Maely.

"No, I'm not changing that. I'm not gonna buy big bottles of Pepsi for 89 cents because they're cheap," said Grim.

"I have a 40 pound dog and the same bag I used to get five years ago was $25 then is now $38," said Binninger. "Milk, produce, it's all gone up, and it's very frustrating, I have a child I have to make sure is fed with all of the food groups and generally the better the food is for you, the more expensive it's becoming."

And we may not be out of the woods just yet, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture says fish alone, could go up as much as 5.5 percent by the end of this year, and officials are predicting milk and dairy are expected go up another 5 percent by year's end, meat could go up nearly 7 percent.

Ashley says she keeps her eyes peeled for the sales. "I'll do a big grocery shop at the beginning of the month and then based on the sale adds for the grocery stores during the week is when I'll come in and pick up things I need," said Binninger.

Various grocery stores offer different promotions, Piggly Wiggly started a $5 of free gas promotion in February. "We have BP and Hess gift cards and with green backs, if you use five of your green backs, you can get a $25 gift card for $20," said Byrd.

Ashley's weekly total this time for her family of three plus their pooch?

Just over $90 and she's not surprised.  "It's about average, I probably spend about 85 bucks a week on groceries. It's a significant cost in our house," she said.

Byrd said any increased food cost would be phased in over a period of time, to avoid immediate sticker shock.  And while gas prices impact all grocery chains, we reached out to others chains for their reaction and advice on ways to save.

Here's an email response WMBF News received from the Kroger Stores:

In the last several months, Kroger has experienced some inflation (where the cost of the product rises to us). As a result, prices on some commodities cost more today than they did a year ago. The combination of weather, high demand for food raw materials and commodities like wheat and corn, and a growing world economy outside the U.S. has caused the underlying cost of some products to rise.

Farmers pay more for livestock, grazing land, fertilizers, feed and processing systems.  Plus, the cost of fuel used in machinery and trucks is rising and has an effect on prices.

When these costs increase, our company works with our suppliers to delay the price increases as long as we can, and we look for ways to reduce the distribution costs shared between us and the supplier.

While we don't have control over inflation, we have several ways to help our customers save money by shopping at our stores.

  • Save with corporate brand items - including Private Selections, Kroger and store brand, and Value brand items.
  • Look for and use the valuable coupons mailed to your home or visit
  • Kroger weekly ads and themed promotions like Mega Events and 3 Day Sales provide big savings.
  • Kroger's retail prices are competitive and lower than other retailers.

Kroger recognizes how difficult it is for families are to make ends meet in this challenging economy, and are making every effort to help.

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