Remember that these price-increase numbers are from the USDA and reflect national trends. You can expect the 3-4% price increase in eggs in 2013 at a large supermarket, but that isn’t necessarily the case with a smaller local retailer.
In the short term, beef prices will actually take a quick dip as more ranchers are selling cattle to reduce herd size in anticipation of prohibitive feed prices in the immediate future.
This abatement will be quickly reversed, however, as beef prices are expected to make the highest jump of all impacted food prices, with 4-5% increases in 2013. Culled herds can take years to build back up to full strength, so the price of beef could very well remain high for a while, putting a damper on next year’s barbecue plans.
If you can’t cut back on beef consumption, stock up. Buying in bulk is almost always cheaper than buying small portions, and with the short-term decrease in beef prices this isn’t a bad idea. Find some room in the freezer and buy beef while the price is reasonable.
Higher feed costs due to the drought will hurt here too. Poultry prices are expected to rise faster than beef prices because chickens and turkeys only need a few months to mature to market standard size, unlike cattle. The USDA expects poultry prices to increase 3-4% in 2013.
One trick here is to buy poultry right before the sell-by date listed on the package at the grocery store. Stores often mark down poultry or meat after it’s been on the shelf for a few days, in fear of having to throw the meat away and lose out on a sale completely. Ask the butcher how soon in advance of the sell-by date his or her store usually marks down the poultry, then buy the discounted meat and cook it that evening.
While corn is an integral ingredient in many processed foods, prices for processed foods are unlikely to climb as much as for beef or dairy. This is because feed prices represent a larger share of overall production costs for beef and poultry than corn prices do for processed foods, whose production costs are dominated by marketing and transportation.