A loaf of bread for $10.99? Inflation might be easing but sticker shock is still real

Economists say many other factors are at play in keeping food prices high.
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 10:01 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 13, 2023 at 10:39 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Inflation might be easing, but anyone who has gone grocery shopping lately knows prices for common staples are still high ― especially on the neighbor islands.

At a KTA Superstore in Hilo, for example, the price for a loaf of bread recently was $10.99.

And that was the sale price.

“They come in, and they go wow, the price has gone way up,” said KTA Executive Vice President Derek Kurisu.

Nationally, grocery prices rocketed 12% during the past year.

For some Oahu shoppers, it seems like more.

“We do taco nights every once in a while, and a year ago it cost maybe 50 bucks for everything. But now it’s $120 for the same thing,” said grocery shopper Kelly Ann Stewart in Kalihi.

Kurisu has been with KTA for more than 50 years, and said the high prices are not just because of inflation.

“We actually saw this coming with this COVID issue,” he said.

Kurisu added many things were affected because of labor and shipping.

Economists say the rate of inflation in food has actually started to fall.

“If you look at fruits, vegetables and dairy products, there’s been declines in the last month,” said Sumner La Croix, of the Economic Research Organization at the University of Hawaii.

“But if you’re looking at things like eggs, meat, poultry, all those prices are way up.”

Eggs are especially expensive. In Hilo, 18 eggs could cost you more than $13.

“One reason there is bird flu,” said La Croix. “A lot of hens have been culled because of the bird flu. There’s just fewer hens producing fewer eggs.”

And he said the war in Ukraine has raised the price of petroleum — and food needs to be transported, something that always keeps our grocery prices higher.

Supermarkets are even facing competition online.

“Now that doesn’t really apply to meats and vegetables, but a lot of the other products that are not perishable, people can order and have a reoccurring order and have it delivered to their house every month,” said Tina Yakaki of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii.

Kurisu said using local farmers is also keeping his costs down, but even they are having to pay more for such items as fertilizer for their crops.

Still, it could be worse.

Kurisu said local competition for your food dollar is keeping prices lower than they could be.

“Although you’ve seen some prices go up all over the place, we try to keep it as low as possible. And it’s the only way we can survive here.”