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Rising food prices expected to continue

CINCINNATI (Paula Toti) -- Gas prices are expected to rise a bit more over the summer even without an escalation of violence in the Middle East.
With transportation costs going up food prices are also expected to continue to rise.  Produce prices jumped because of a continued drought out west that wasn't getting better.  The drought, higher feed and transportation costs and increased demand affected meat prices.

It was unanimous from local shoppers, their grocery bills were only going in the upward direction.

Carol Ann Pruitt said, "I'd say produce for sure, meats, not sure about milk, but definitely produce and meats."

Higher end cuts of meats, the strips and especially filets were up 20 percent over last summer at Eckerlin Meats. The filets were priced so high they weren't out and there was no sign showing they cost $38.

Throughout the food industry, up and down the food chain, business owners said not all hikes can be passed along to the consumer.  Still, a 5 percent increase on cheaper cuts was a kick in the wallet as people move to those less expensive alternatives.

A virus that hit pig farmers hard raised pork prices 15 percent at its peak.  But butcher Josh Lillis said he was seeing those prices off from the highs.  He admits with so much going higher even chicken tends to be swept up in the wave.  Financial experts said the improving economy was creating more demand for the foods people like to grill in summer.  Prices slowly rise each year and it was why families and business owners kept making adjustments as they watch coffee prices spike too.

Michael Christner of Dojo Gelato said, "The Guatemalan affected by crop damage we noticed a few weeks ago and we switched at the moment."

While Carol Ann Pruitt of Madeira won't change what she feeds her family, she said they eat out less.

Financial experts believe that because the economy was so fragile in the recession food increases were more modest than we should have expected given production costs.  However, inflation was in check and when looking at the consumer price index, food and energy prices increased a very small amount.

Kroger gave Local 12 a statement on food prices that said, "The company has invested significantly in lowering every day prices and plans to continue that."

A spokesman said the retailer had recently lowered some prices in the meat department, like chicken breasts, for $1.99 a pound every day and ground chuck for $2.99 a pound each day.

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