Inflation, pandemic, war reflect consumers’ wariness on grocery prices

New MSU poll reveals concern about the rising costs of food

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Food prices are going up and Americans have noticed, according to new results from Michigan State University’s (MSU) Food Literacy and Engagement Poll. The survey, which sampled 2,052 Americans in March 2022, reports that 86% currently describe food prices as high and 82% are very concerned about the effects of inflation on grocery bills. Just 2% expressed no concern at all.

“Supply chain challenges, inflation, the ongoing pandemic, conflict in Ukraine, and geopolitical uncertainty have converged to affect the wallets of regular Americans at the grocery store,” explained Sheril Kirshenbaum, co-director of the biannual survey. “Many families already struggling with food insecurity have been stretched further due to rising prices.”

Forty-three percent of respondents say that the increasing cost of food has altered their diet or food choices. Among that group, half (51%) buy less expensive cuts of meat, 46% choose generic brands or bulk items to save money, 45% purchase fewer products, 44% plan trips to the grocery store more carefully, and 29% are consuming less food.

Inflation_Food Prices_2022

“Our polling data continue to provide important insights on how Americans view their food and the food system. The continuing impact of world events including the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine on food availability and prices is an important reminder of the complexity and fragility of our food supply chain,” said Doug Buhler, co-director of the poll and associate vice president of MSU Research and Innovation.

Over one-third of those surveyed (36%) report that the COVID-19 pandemic affected their household’s ability to access food, with half of that group (50%) having fewer financial resources.

Americans are not feeling optimistic that the cost of food will fall again soon. Nearly three-quarters (73%) say they expect prices to go up further in the next 6 months. Additionally, over one-third (37%) believe President Joe Biden is largely responsible.

Additional highlights from the recent MSU survey include:

  • Half (49%) of Americans say they never or rarely seek out information about where their food was grown or how it was produced.
  • Forty-five percent did not know that all food contains genes.

For more information about the MSU Food Literacy and Engagement Poll, including past results, click here

Data from the MSU Food Literacy and Engagement Poll were weighted using U.S. Census Bureau figures, to ensure the sample's composition reflects the actual U.S. population. Launched in 2017, the poll is supported by MSU AgBioResearch. The survey, conducted twice per year, is intended to provide an objective, authoritative look at consumer attitudes and perspectives on key food issues, and is designed to help inform national discussion, business planning and policy development.

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