Food Prices Expected to Continue Rising

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Knoxville (WVLT) - If you're waiting for your grocery bill to come down, don't hold your breath. Experts say we're experiencing the worst bout of food inflation since 1990.

Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford spoke with an economist at U.T., who says it's not going to get better any time soon.

The average price of food has gone up 4% in the last year and it looks like there's no relief in site.

Several decades ago, Dorothy Gibbs and Jim Lyle never imagined their small cart full of groceries would cost them more than $50.

"Fifty dollars, ten and twenty years ago would buy many sacs of groceries. Today it buys less than half as many," said Lyle, a Knoxville resident.

But, the couple says they don't have a choice but to fork out the extra money when it comes to food.

"I'd much rather it wouldn't, but we don't have much control over it," said Gibbs.

"It's hard to change your way of life, so we give up on other things and go to the store," said Lyle.

Grocery shoppers are all feeling the pain at the checkout, but why?

"The corn is being diverted to produce gasoline, ethanol, that we burn in our cars. The corn's not going into the production of food," explains U.T. Economist Matt Murray.

Murray says that big demand for ethanol drives up the cost of corn.

"That means if you want to use the corn to make corn chex cereal, just as an example, or to feed your cattle, to feed your hogs, to feed your chicken, whatever the animal product is, it raises the cost of feed," said Murray.

A trickle down affect that raises price tags in the stores, not only because of animals.

"Any sort of food that we bring in from abroad because the dollar has shrunk. It takes more American dollars to buy the same amount of that foreign-imported product," said Murray.

But how long will this food inflation last?

"i would expect to see this kind of 4, 5, 6 percent inflation growth continue for the foreseeable future," he said.

Unfortunately, that means a rise in prices through the holiday season.

"if you've got a big freezer, buy your turkey now and stock it away in the freezer while you can," Murray suggested.

Murray says as long as the pressure from the American dollar and ethanol remains, you won't see your grocery bill go down.

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