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Food prices increase despite drop in gas prices

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SALT LAKE CITY — For most Utahns, keeping an eye on prices is important, especially for items they buy each week.

"One big trip a week," said Kelly Gonzalez as she made her weekly round at the grocery store. "We try to limit ourselves."

She's not shopping for just herself.

"We've got nine little grandbabies that always come to the house, always hungry," she said. "Grandma and grandpa have to have snacks at the house."

Although the price at the pump isn't as painful for the Gonzalezes, that doesn't mean their grocery receipts have slimmed down.

According to the Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index, food costs increased in 2014. In November to December, consumers saw a 1.3 percent incline.

"I've noticed fruits and vegetables especially have gone up," she said.

It's left her to wonder, what's the deal?

"Maybe too much rain or too cold? I can't tell you exactly what it is," she said.

We sat down with economist Randy Shumway to see what's going on. After all, most everything at the grocery store arrived on a truck.

Remember food machinery, farm machinery rely heavily on diesel, and the price of diesel hasn't gone down nearly as much as the price of gasoline.

–Randy Shumway, economist

"There are so many other variables affecting food," Shumway said. "Remember food machinery, farm machinery rely heavily on diesel, and the price of diesel hasn't gone down nearly as much as the price of gasoline."

According to Shumway, Gonzalez was on to something when she mentioned the weather.

"Three years ago, we had a severe drought that affected beef production," said Shumway. "The result is beef prices went up every month."

He said gas prices do play a factor, they just lag behind a bit and take time to affect customers at the checkout.

Those savings won't happen overnight, though. Shumway expects some decrease in food costs, but said it could take anywhere from four to nine months.


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Ashley Kewish


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