Headlines about inflation have been a staple of 2022, and consumers have seen prices for grocery items rise, from lettuce to a pack of Modelo beers.
However, some prices items have been able to stay stable despite the environmental and economic pressure that may have caused other costs to spike. One of them is the beloved Costco hot dog.
KRLD’s asked economist Chris Thornberg of Beacon Economics if the hot dog could be sold for $1.50 forever during a recent episode of the “Something Offbeat” podcast.
“Sure. Why not?” he said. “Look, Costco’s profit margin is fat enough that they can give away hot dogs to do it.”
“In 2022, food price increases are expected to be above the increases in 2020 and 2021,” said the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service this month of expected totals for this year. “In 2022, all food prices are predicted to increase between 9.5 and 10.5%, food-at-home prices are predicted to increase between 11 and 12%, and food-away-from-home prices are predicted to increase between 7 and 8%."
According to a report this week in Daily Meal, foods that have been immune to inflation alongside Costco’s hot dog deal (which also features a soft drink) include strawberries, tomatoes, steak, AriZona Iced Tea, and McDonald’s $1 soft drinks.
For McDonald’s, those $1 beverages function similarly to Costco’s hot dog deals. Even though prices for other menu items at the fast food giant increased this year, and even though Coca-Cola raised prices, McDonald’s still manages to make a profit on the drinks.
“It’s likely on account of how McDonald's enjoys a big profit margin on the drinks anyway,” said the Daily Meal. It also said that AriZona still turns profit on its beverages after keeping prices under $1 since the 1990s, and the company plans to hold its price as long as possible since it is so associated with the brand.
In contrast to lettuce prices, which were impacted by an insect-borne virus, conditions for strawberries were good this year on both the West Coast and East Cost, per the Daily Meal. While tomato price also remained stable, a “less-than-overabundant harvest,” related to water scarcity issues in California could make prices rise in the future.
As for steak, inflation pressure actually curtailed demand, causing prices to decrease in 2022. Prices for other meats – including chicken and non-Costco hot dogs – went up over the course of the year, said the Daily Meal.
In November, increases in all-food and food-at-home prices continued to slow, according to the USDA.
“Prices increased for eight food categories and three aggregate categories, and egg prices increased by 2.3% from October,” due to an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, said the department.
Fresh vegetable prices also increased and prices for poultry decreased.
“Food prices are expected to grow more slowly in 2023 than in 2022, but still at above historical average rates,” said the USDA. “In 2023, all food prices are predicted to increase between 3.5 and 4.5%, food-at-home prices are predicted to increase between 3 and 4%, and food-away-from-home prices are predicted to increase between 4 and 5%.”
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