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The price of chicken wings is back down just in time for football season

Shifting consumer prices at the grocery show both concerns and hope

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Photo (c) Bet Noire - Getty Images
The prices consumers are paying at the grocery store don’t appear to be relenting overall, but there are some bright spots that are showing up, such as the price of beef and chicken wings. 

The latest data trends from consumer analytics firm Information Resources, Inc (IRI) show that prices of food at home remain elevated, rising 1.2% from the end of June to the end of July, but tilting the scale at 14.4% year-over-year as of July 31.

“Consumers are responding to rising prices by shopping promotions, prioritizing value options, and trading down to avoid going without,” said Krishnakumar Davey, president of Thought Leadership for Consumer Packaged Goods and Retail at IRI

“We are advising our manufacturer clients to deploy all levers of strategic revenue management, prioritize strong in-market execution, and invest in retailer partnerships to ensure that the right products are available in the right places at the right times."

Davey said in order to give the customers what they want and at prices they can afford, retailers have to be nimble.

"Retailers must have the tools to quickly adjust to changes in consumer preferences to ensure they are offering the right assortment at price points that appeal to price-sensitive shoppers as well as their most valuable customers," he said.

The trouble spots

In reviewing IRI’s latest data, ConsumerAffairs found five pressure points that consumers are having to face at their local grocery stores. Topping that list is the price of eggs which is 46.8% higher in July than it was the previous year.

The next budget crunchers are butter and margarine – 26.3% higher – and frozen dinners and entrees – 22.8% higher than they were in 2021. Frozen pizza and center store bread (baked in-store) rounded out the top five at 17.8% and 15.4% respectively.

The bright spots

IRI said there was some hopeful news for consumers, but couched it as possibly limited. The categories with the five largest decreases in price break down as follows:

Category

July '22 vs.
June '22

July '22 vs.
July '21

Fresh citrus fruit

-2.4%

+26.7%

Bacon

-1.4%

+9.3%

Ice cream and sherbet

-0.8%

+7.4%

Beef

-0.3%

-0.1%

Packaged lunch meat

-0.1%

+23.6%

While chicken wings weren’t part of IRI’s data, the price for those is swinging back in the consumer’s favor. And just in time for football season, too.

According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report, processors have apparently been stockpiling chicken wings like crazy. The number of wings in cold storage increased for the second month and at the end of June were at their highest since pre-pandemic 2018. Overall, wing prices have been steadily falling from their May 2021 high of $3.25 per pound down to $1.68 per pound in July – the lowest monthly average since May 2020. 

While the cold storage stock of chicken breasts is below 2021 levels, the prices for those parts are also showing some positive movement. The USDA’s report showed year-to-year prices are still up, but between May and July, breast meat prices fell from a peak of $3.52 per pound to an encouraging average of $2.82 per pound.

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