According to the Department of Agriculture, U. S. food prices rose 4% percent in 2007, compared with an average 2.5% annual increase for the last 15 years, and the agency says 2008 could be worse, with an increase of as much as 4.5%.
At the grocery store that means you may have to do a little creative shopping.
Eggs cost 25% more in February than they did a year ago. According to the U.S.D.A., milk and other dairy products jumped 13%, chicken and other poultry nearly 7%.
Economists cite a number of reasons for the spike, including high energy and transportation costs.
We visited a Little Rock Kroger store to conduct a little experiment, taking a shopping list and purchasing 9 items that are brand name, and then going back to buy those same 9 items -- generic, and comparing the receipts.
Here's what we discovered. We bought bread, lunch meat, canned corn, tuna, canned peaches, oatmeal, crackers, frozen shrimp, and paper towels. After using a Kroger card for a discount, the total cost came out to $19.12. The generics total, using the Kroger card again, came out to $14.97, a savings of $4.15.
So in these hard economic times, if you don't mind a minor change in taste or appearance, generic brands may in fact be the way to keep some cash in your wallet while still keeping your family happy at the dinner table.