: ‘All of this puts parents in a pickle’: A sharp rise in lunch-meat prices is adding to parents’ back-to-school stress

by | Aug 23, 2022 | Stock Market

Back-to-school season is taking a toll on parents’ nerves — and their pocketbooks. And they now face another financial challenge: Lunch meats are getting more expensive.  The price of lunch meat rose 18% in July compared to a year earlier, according to the Department of Labor. That’s higher than the 13% annual price increase for groceries, which marked the largest increase since 1979. 

The price of ham rose 9.2% in July year over year, while bacon, breakfast sausage and similar products were 11.7% more expensive.  At the beginning of the school year, parents start buying more deli meat, said Brian Earnest, the lead animal protein economist with CoBank, a private-credit provider for the rural economy.   A typical lunch sandwich with two ounces of ham and one ounce of cheese cost approximately $1.65 in July, up 39% compared to the same period last year, Earnest wrote in a research note.What’s behind the price spike? Deli meats are a labor-intensive industry, requiring many workers to process the raw meat, while labor shortages in the domestic hog industry have hugely impacted supply, Earnest said.  An avian flu outbreak earlier this year that affected all kinds of poultry produce — including eggs and turkey breast — also adversely affected the market for lunch meat. “All of this puts parents in a pickle,” Earnest wrote in the report, as many parents regard ham and turkey sandwiches as the most economical and convenient packed-lunch options.  While alternatives like peanut butter and jelly may be cheaper, peanuts are banned in many schools due to allergy concerns, he added. 

“Many lower- …

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