Grocery tax

If you’re a dining-out addict like me, the whole reason you went shopping to begin with was that nagging voice in the back of your head saying, “Maybe I should cook at home for once and try saving a buck?”

So if you’re the kind of person who keeps an eye on such things, you may have noticed some big price changes over the past year. According to CBS News, the average price of a dozen eggs has plummeted, dropping from $2.57 to $1.54; the average cost of gallon of milk has slipped nearly 40 cents to $3.06; and a pound of ground beef is now over 10 percent cheaper. Overall, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that “the price of food at home is down 1.6 percent on a seasonally unadjusted basis in the 12 months through July.”

It’s called food price deflation, and the current stretch of monthly year-to-year declines is on track to be the longest in over 50 years – primarily the result of increasing US food supplies coupled with declining demand abroad. And though shoppers are enjoying the savings, other parts of the economy are feeling the pinch: Grocery stores are seeing shrinking earnings; farmers and ranchers are earning less money for their products; and even secondary industries like tractor suppliers are finding themselves cutting production. As we reported last month, things were dire enough in the dairy industry that the government stepped in to buy $20 million worth of cheese to help with that industry’s supply glut.

The WSJ suggests that these depressed prices could last at least until the end of the year. It’s a double-edged sword: For shoppers, Thanksgiving dinner could be super affordable this year, but for those working in the food industry, this holiday season might be one they don’t feel like celebrating.