EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

March 22, 2014

Rise in breakfast food prices linked to supply problems

NEW YORK (AP) — Breakfast is now being served with a side of sticker shock.

The price of bacon is surging and the cost of other morning staples, like coffee and orange juice, is set to rise because of global supply problems, from drought in Brazil to disease on U.S. pig farms.

And it’s not just the first meal of the day that’s being affected. The cost of meats, fish and eggs led the biggest increase in U.S. food prices in nearly 2 ½ years last month, according to government data. An index that tracks those foods rose 1.2 percent in February and has climbed 4 percent over the last 12 months.

While overall inflation remains low, the increases in food prices are forcing shoppers to search out deals and cut back.

Denise Gauthier, 54, a screenwriter in North Hollywood, Calif., calls the rising prices “shocking and outrageous.” To cope, she has become more frugal, hunting for discounts and buying less food overall.

“I will look for things that are on sale and adjust my menu for that,” says Gunthier, who now stocks up on her favorite coffee when it goes on sale for $4.99.

Here’s a rundown of why breakfast food costs are rising, and why they could keep going up.

BACON

Bringing home the bacon is costing more.

The price of lean pork in the futures market is at record levels and is up 52 percent since the start of the year, to $1.31 a pound. Traders are concerned about a deadly virus in the U.S. hog population.

That could further boost bacon prices, which were already rising after farmers cut pig production because of higher feed costs. Those costs climbed after a drought in 2012.

The average price of a pound of sliced bacon in U.S. cities was $5.46 in February, up from $4.83 a year earlier and $3.62 five years ago, government data shows.

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