The meat industry is getting the hardest hit, with beef costing up to an 8% more than usual.

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With shelter-in-place and social distancing guidelines in place by the CDC due to the coronavirus pandemic, it makes sense that most Americans are spending more money on groceries this year. And while face mask coverings and increased sanitation measures make grocery shopping look way different today than it did a few months ago, the prices are also about to see a change. According to the latest Food Price Outlook (a monthly report produced by the USDA), it's predicted that we'll see an increase of food-at-home prices across all categories of grocery foods between 2.5% and 3.5 % this month compared to last month. Prices are also expected to increase by 1.5% to 2.5% (in total) for the remainder of the year.

woman shopping with face mask on in grocery store
Credit: Kilito Chan/Getty Images

You might have noticed some products such as meat and eggs fluctuating in pricing due to slower production or closed processing facilities. Looking at the Consumer Price Index (CPI) breakdown, the meat department will likely take the largest hit. Beef prices are expected to see the highest price jump in 2020 compared to last year with an increase of 8% followed by pork (4.5%) and poultry (3%).

“Processors have implemented health protocols for dealing with Covid-19 that might have hindered their ability to process cattle and hogs, although they have recouped much of the lost slaughter capacity,” the report states.

While meat looks like it will reflect the highest increase in price at the store, the report states shoppers can expect a price increase for fresh produce and dairy products, too. Fresh fruit and vegetables will increase by as much as 1%, with dairy pricing expected to increase 3% to 4% at retail.

With millions of jobs lost due to the pandemic, this is an unfortunate time for grocery prices to get higher. To help your budget, utilize your pantry staples to whip up some easy recipes. Or try adding some meatless options into your weekly menu rotation. If you're able, consider donating to a pantry near you and skip the WIC labeled items at your store for those that need to buy them.

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