Grocery spending leaves a bitter taste


So you’re walking down the aisle at your local Vons or Ralphs and wondering how in the world to make ends meet when the bill at the checkout counter is up by 25% over what it was three years ago, outpacing the rate of inflation for other goods and services that we rely on for day-to-day living.

Families making moderate salaries spend a far greater portion of their income on the essentials, such as groceries, a non-neogtiable necessity, than do wealthier folks. And that hurts.

But a recent report by Trace One, a national product life-cycle management firm, shows that while the cost of groceries remains historically high, the spending in California is not totally off the charts like it is for other necessities such as utilities and gasoline. But that comes as little solace when a single lonely avocado can cost up to $3 at some stores.

Trying to feed a family of four leaves little room for the non-essential things parents and kids want, and need to do on occasion, like visiting Disneyland. Good luck affording that.

The report says groceries account for the largest share of individual spending in a number of states where income is relatively low, or where grocery prices are especially high. But even in regions where grocery spending constitutes a smaller portion of income, consumers still find themselves grappling with chunky weekly food bills. Eggs and beef have jumped the most.

In the study, researchers calculated the share of total consumer spending allocated to groceries for each state, and then ranked states accordingly.

Overall, Californians dedicate the 11th smallest percentage of total consumer spending to groceries of any U.S. state. The average household in the Golden State spends $298 on groceries each week, the report showed. Families in some 40 states spend more. On average, grocery spending represents 7.5% of California residents’ total consumer spending. In lower-income states like Mississippi, trips to the store can eat up almost 10% of a family’s budget.

That’s not to say food in California is cheap, far from it. But in the majority of other states it’s even worse.

Take that and chew on it.