Will grocery inflation cool in 2024? Here’s what forecasts say

The vibes at the grocery store have felt off-kilter ever since Americans weathered the great toilet paper shortage of 2020. Inflation and its stealthy sidekick, shrinkflation, have become a painful part of the grocery shopping experience for the past four ...

Will grocery inflation cool in 2024

The vibes at the grocery store have felt off-kilter ever since Americans weathered the great toilet paper shortage of 2020. Inflation and its stealthy sidekick, shrinkflation, have become a painful part of the grocery shopping experience for the past four years.

It’s a rude awakening after a decade of relatively stable food prices. The cost of groceries actually deflated, or decreased, from 2016-2017, according to Department of Agriculture data. When might we see that again, and could 2024 spell relief for shoppers worried about skyrocketing prices at the checkout counter?

Food safety mangement software provider FoodReady used data from the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service to examine experts’ predictions about inflation for food at home in 2024. The inflation data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that serves as the foundation of the USDA’s forecasting takes into account shrinkflation, the practice of charging the same price for less product.

An NPR report found that by summer 2022, a carton of Kleenex had 60 tissues in it, down from 65 several months prior. Chobani shrunk one of its single-serve yogurt products by almost a full ounce.

Experts say these changes to our grocery foods are unlikely to see a reversal. Smaller portions and higher prices will be the new normal from here on out, putting pressure on consumers to find additional income or get by with less at home. 

Higher food prices are also increasing pressure on the food service industry, with food safety experts recommending the use of food quality management software to track food quality as cut corners and counterfeits become more tempting.

The past few years of inflation aren’t the worst in the modern era. The most significant bouts happened around the Great Inflation period of the 1970s and 1980s—when prices rose rapidly in response to years of wage gains and greater purchasing power post-WWII.

But forecasts suggest that the pain of this high-inflationary period at the supermarket could peter out quicker than it did in the late 20th century.

Grocery inflation graph 2024 prediction

Grocery inflation is expected to ease even more in 2024

Overall decreases in the cost of grocery foods, as seen in 2016 and 2017, are rare, and the Federal Reserve considers inflation of around 2% or lower an acceptable rate. But the rate at which groceries increased in price in 2020 hit levels last seen 10 years prior, delivering a shock to consumers that worsened in 2022 as the inflation rate reached a nearly 50-year high.

Higher costs for labor and inputs are only partly to blame for the increased prices in recent years. The series of disruptions set off by the COVID-19 pandemic and a period of solid wage gains made consumers more willing to pay a premium—a situation corporations have been able to leverage to cover their expenses and reel in large profits.

Only retirement-age Americans will recall a year when consumers faced grocery prices that rose faster than in 2022. The year was 1974, and sellers hiked food prices higher than ever in a single year to boost the amount of money they could spend on processing and marketing foods.

Grocery cost 2024 projection graph

Inflation is expected to slow across most aisles

Not all grocery food prices will likely stabilize similarly this year. For one, projections suggest consumers can look forward to lower prices for a carton of eggs.

Eggs were one of the most prominent food inflation complaints in 2023, even as their prices decreased throughout the year. The USDA predicts egg prices will continue to fall in 2024, estimating costs could dip about 12% below where they were in 2023.

On the other hand, the cost of items such as meat, nonalcoholic drinks, cooking oils, and sweet snacks and candy is expected to rise slightly over the year compared to 2023. Most other aisles, however, see middle estimates closer to 0%, meaning prices won’t increase or decrease dramatically.


Food industry stakeholders can mitigate the impact of grocery inflation by investing in food safety and quality management software, being transparent about product sizes and pricing, exploring sustainable and cost-effective sourcing methods, and continuously engaging with consumers to understand their concerns and expectations, thereby sustaining consumer trust despite market fluctuations.
Retailers can adapt by offering loyalty programs that provide discounts on staple items, highlighting value-for-money deals, and enhancing customer service to provide a better shopping experience. Additionally, focusing on local and seasonal produce can also help in offering competitive prices.
Long-term solutions may involve investing in agricultural technology and infrastructure to increase efficiency and reduce waste, fostering international cooperation to ensure stable food trade policies, and supporting sustainable farming practices to address the impacts of climate change on food production. Strengthening local food systems and enhancing food storage and distribution networks can also play a crucial role in stabilizing prices and ensuring access to nutritious food for all communities.

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