Perils of Pricing and Nutrition

Economics Inflation

Pearl River      Former president, the late George H. Bush was famously embarrassed during his last campaign on a mundane stop going through the line at a supermarket where he was clearly lost in an unknown environment, inadvertently distancing himself the experience of average Americans.  These days, we should all be so lucky to find the shopping experience better left to others and their deeper pocketbooks.

We all have our own measures of inflation and perhaps predatory pricing strategies.  As a driver regularly putting significant miles on my truck, I watch gas prices like a hawk.  My jaw drops when I read about $7.50 a gallon prices in California.  How do they make it?  I was able to get gas for a third of that on my last run to Arkansas and even in greater New Orleans was able to hit $2.59, but now it’s running between $3.09 and $2.89 most places.  Yeah, yeah, I know, we shouldn’t complain, but just saying.

Driving back from Houston may go-to barometer for decades has been the cost of honey buns, an occasional purchase when I need a push.  Don’t judge me!  There have been times when they were two for a dollar, but in recent years it’s a buck a pop and a bit more with taxes.  At the ubiquitous Love’s truck stops, the eye-popping price on these buns and all such items were now $2.39!  That goes way past inflation.

Buying three cartons of eggs this weekend in preparation of a big staff meeting, a young woman with a toddler in her shopping cart passed by me and with a smile without stopping said to me, “eggs, they’re too expensive for me!”  I laughed and said “I had heard on the radio that they were $5 a dozen.”  I then looked and realized the organic eggs I was getting for our picky staff team were almost six-and-a-half a dozen.

Inflation is real, obviously, but the bird flu that led to millions of hens being put down per USDA and FDA requirements is likely as big, if not a bigger factor.  I made the mistake of relating my shock to mi companera, thinking I would get a hearty shout of support, but I was wrong.  She went all nutritional and protein-happy on me, and darned if she didn’t math shame me.  Her argument went like this.  A pound of ground beef is running on average about $5.19, and you can get four patties out of that, so that’s about $1.30 per burger.  The eggs, even the high-priced organic ones, are about 55 cents per egg.  If you go for two eggs, you beat the burger.  If you buy a carton of eggs at an average price of $3.50, each egg is running less than thirty cents, so even a three-egg omelet gets you as much or more protein as a burger for less than a buck.  Even with eggs at $5 per dozen or about 42 cents per egg, a three-egg scrambled is still cheaper than a burger.  She’s not saying that eggs are suddenly a bargain at the price, but she’s got a point.

All of which shut me up for a while.  I’m a regular worker at our household’s Saturday night grocery run, and it’s still not easy out there for me or that young mother I mentioned, but we’re all way out of the league for the George H. Bush folks around the country.  It’s going to be a rough ride for a while.