News23ABC In-Depth


Local food vendors struggle with increase in food prices

"They’ll say things like, ‘oh how much is that?'"
Posted: 5:14 PM, May 11, 2022
Updated: 2022-05-12 11:34:53-04
Food Pantry

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The Bureau of Labor Statistics released their latest report on the cost of goods. While inflation went up less than the previous month, 0.3% in April, compared to 1.3% in March, food prices keep skirting up.

April's Consumer Price Index Report shows that the food index went up 9.4%, the largest 12-month increase since 1981. Stores like Los Reyes Market said they’re trying to find creative ways to cut down on costs without raising their prices.

“Sometimes when they’re at the register they’ll say things like, ‘oh how much is that? Can you weigh it and tell me how much that is going to be? Oh wait, let me change it for this other lower priced item.’”

Staying competitive, while remaining compassionate. That’s the balance local grocers, like Co-Owner of Los Reyes Market Ceci Gonzalez, have been trying to keep for customers that have been so loyal.

Costs have gone up, they have workers and rent to pay, and a business to run.

If the price is a slight increase, they don’t change it, but when it’s drastic, it does get passed on to the customer. Despite this, Gonzalez said the market has not seen a drop in customers.

“12-pack soda for example, I saw a definite increase in those prices, to the point where I was like, wait is this a mistake? But nope, it’s not a mistake and we’re all feeling it.”

“Needless to say, we’re trying not to have to raise our prices. Items that we have our own margin on, we have not raised any of our prices, but it hurts. We want to keep our customers coming. We know it’s an impact not them. Items I can’t control, grocery items especially, which makes me normal like everyone else, when it comes in, I have to raise it,” said Chuck Naus, Co-Owner of Nature’s Food and Market.

Meanwhile, Naus said they’ve seen a 20% decrease in shoppers overall in the last year and a half, while manufacturing prices keep going up.

“Across the board, if you can imagine, our grocery items, all which need to be trucked here, it doesn’t matter if it’s canned, or boxed, raw, or whole, some of the items have gone up, 25% to 30%.

Naus said some manufacturers are raising prices that much every week.

In some instances, they don’t have the inventory they need. For example, Nature’s Food and Market explained that they use a lot of carrots for smoothies at their juice bar and one day their supplier was out. They had to go buy carrots at Costco at a retail price with less quantity.

Los Reyes has also had to get creative. One way they’ve done that is by buying in bulk and increasing vendors. Gonzales said they went from 50 to 80 vendors a week in the span of a year.

“Dedicating a lot more time to the specials that they’re offering us and trying to order as much as they stuff as possible, so we can keep those prices low,” said Gonzales.

Local vendors don’t have corporations to help them stay afloat, making shopping local that much more key.

23ABC In-Depth

23ACB In-Depth: Tips for Saving on Groceries

With the cost of food rising you may wonder "how can I save when I go to the store?" 23ABC took a deep dive and found some of the best ways you can help trim down that grocery bill.

According to CNN Business, keep an eye out for any and all sales on things you need and stock up on those items.

Make a list and stick to it. But also, before you go check coupon websites and apps to see if there's a coupon for anything on your list.

Download the apps from your favorite or most-visited stores and take advantage of promo codes and their store-specific coupons.

Take part in reward programs and cash-back offers from stores and credit cards which will stretch your savings.

Switch to store brands. In the past, store brands were often cheap knock-offs of name brands. But now, "house brands are often produced by the same manufacturers that make the big-name items, but they're typically cheaper."

Fight "shrinkflation" - the tactic of maintaining the price, but reducing the amount you get by comparing the unit pricing on similar products rather than the actual price.

Buy frozen meats that will last longer and vegetables during peak seasons when they are cheaper.

Finally, look for "ugly produce." These are often misshapen or miscolored foods that some producers have rejected but taste just the same but for a much lower price.