Inflation hits Philadelphia harder than any other city in the country

Photo Credit: Stanford News
Photo Credit: Stanford News

Last year, Pennsylvania experienced a steeper inflation of grocery prices than any other state. A report by ConsumerAffairs showed that statewide prices increased by 8.2% from October 2022 to October 2023. That’s 5.3% faster than the national average. Colorado, by comparison, only saw an inflation of 2.9% on the same products during the same time period. Philadelphia specifically had some of the highest rates of inflation compared to other metro areas in the country at 7.1%. Richmond, Virginia, by contrast, only saw a 2.3% inflation rate.

While some place the blame for this disparity on supply chain discrepancies or operating costs, others claim it is due to corporate greed. US Senator Bob Casey is among those putting the onus on food companies and grocery stores to bring their prices down. “Shrinkflation” or “greedflation” as it is becoming more commonly known, is the practice of charging the same price for an item while reducing the amount of product included. Senator Casey pointed to the example of Kleenex, who now include five less tissues per box sold. Five tissues per box may seem trivial, but these are the types of choices that lead to record profits for companies at the expense of the consumer.

Though it is true that supply and demand plays a factor in the final cost of goods, the decision to raise prices falls solely on executives driven by the profit motive. For instance, Mike Watson of Philly-based supplier TMK Produce noted that customers are becoming “resistant” to the higher prices, but neglected to provide a concrete reason why inflated prices are persisting. Watson also noted that customers are shopping more often, but spending less each visit. As most Philadelphians can confirm, this is because they do not have the cash-in-pocket to stock their homes with the amount of groceries their family needs, and instead must grab only the most essential items.

There are ways to curb some of the worst effects of inflation, but unfortunately, this is not always possible. For example, customers can opt for less expensive ingredients while shopping, but essential items like baby formula and products containing grains, pasta, and wheat have skyrocketed in price with no alternative option. Pre-made meals, however, have experienced little to no inflation. This conscious choice to price customers out of necessities forces them to feed their families more processed and frozen foods, which are significantly less healthy.

Another way to curb the effects of inflated store prices is to find other means of sourcing groceries wherever possible. In Southwest, there are a number of community gardens that allow community members to plant what they wish for a small fee. The Sankofa Community Farm at Bartram’s Garden and The People’s Kitchen Community Garden are just a few of the options in the area that are available to the public.

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