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Customers shop at a grocery store in Mount Prospect, Ill.

Customers shop at a grocery store in Mount Prospect, Ill., Friday, April 1, 2022. Surging inflation poses a particular challenge for working-class families, impacting the cost of basic necessities such as groceries.

Nam Y. Huh

Meat cost 13% more than a year ago in the Chicago area. Produce isn’t far behind.

From restaurant owners trying to make ends meet to home chefs making meals for friends and family, the rising cost of food has many people reevaluating their grocery lists.

In the Chicago area, food is 10% more expensive now than it was a year ago, according to data released Tuesday from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meat and produce have seen an even greater increase.

The soaring price of food coincides with inflation reaching a 40-year high. The consumer price index rose 7.8% in March from 12 months earlier. Prices have been driven up by bottlenecked supply chains, robust consumer demand and disruptions to global food and energy markets worsened by Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The price of meat, poultry, fish and eggs have increased the most in the Chicago area, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meat is 13% more expensive than it was a year ago, while produce increased 12%.

The rise in prices isn’t limited to the Chicago area. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which monitors the average price of specific grocery items around the Midwest, found that a dozen eggs cost an average of 22% more than a year ago. Most meats have jumped between 12% and 38% in the Midwest.

One sweet spot: Ice cream is cheaper than it was a year ago.

It’s not just consumers who feel the pain of rising prices. Wael Ghousheh, who runs the Valley of Jordan grocery in Hyde Park, emphasized how expensive it is to stock his small business.

Ghousheh said he used to sell a dozen eggs for $1.99, but has since increased the selling price to $3.99 because they now cost him $3.50 to buy.

“And every day you go to the market, you find the price is going higher and higher,” Ghousheh said. “This — of course, for the customer — is no good.”

The acceleration of inflation has occurred against the backdrop of a booming job market and a solid overall economy. Some economists, though, suggest that inflation is at or near its peak. But that could take time.

Until then, both grocery shoppers and store owners will feel the squeeze.

“Now, everybody is looking for the cheap stuff, like bread,” Ghousheh said. “The bread’s high. The eggs are high. Everything is high.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Charmaine Runes is WBEZ’s data/visuals reporter. Follow her @maerunes.

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