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Food costs are affecting the way we shop and eat

The cost of food at grocery stores rose 11.9% from last year, according to the latest release of inflation figures. That’s the biggest increase since April 1979, and with skyrocketing food prices, Americans are buying more store brands and cutting back on expensive meat and produce.

  • In addition, tensions are increasing outside and inside the Supreme Court.
  • And, damning testimony from Trump’s inner circle.

Guests: Emily Peck, Sam Baker and Mike Allen of Axios.

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Lydia McMullen-Laird, and Alex Sugiura. The music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can send questions, comments, and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice message at 202-918-4893.

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Transcription

NIALA: Good morning! Welcome to Axios today! It’s Tuesday, June 14. I’m Niala Boodhoo. Today: rising tensions outside AND inside the supreme court. Plus: damning testimony from Trump’s inner circle. But first, today’s big deal: how rising food costs are affecting the way we shop and eat.

NIALA: The cost of food in grocery stores is up 11.9% from last year. That’s according to the latest release of inflation figures, and it’s the biggest increase since April 1979. Now those skyrocketing food prices are changing the way we eat and shop. Americans are buying more store brands and cutting back on expensive meat and produce. Here to explain what’s going on is Axios Markets Reporter Emily Peck. Hello Emily!

EMILY PECK: Hello!

NIALA: So what foods are particularly expensive right now, Emily?

EMILY: First of all, everything is more expensive now, but listeners know that. Based on the latest inflation figures, the most inflationary items in the grocery store right now would be eggs. Egg prices are up 32% year over year. It is to the point where you would realize. I realized because I have a family and we went through a lot of eggs. They are always so cheap, but now I see that they are not so cheap anymore. 32 percent, um, that’s due in part to an outbreak of avian flu earlier in the year that killed about 6% of commercial laying hens. Following him on the list, fats and oils rose 16.9%, due to the war in Ukraine. And you think, “Fats and oils? Well, that’s just a small part of my grocery bill,” but those costs are added to other types of processed foods like the cereal you buy, the bread you buy, and so on. Um, poultry is up 16% and milk is also up about 16%.

NIALA: I think a lot of people are wondering if companies are using this moment as an excuse to engage in some sort of price gouging.

EMILY: What I can say about grocery stores and food prices is that grocery stores and the companies that put items on grocery store shelves, they really don’t want to raise prices too high. Grocery store customers are very price sensitive. This is why you see a lot of contraction inflation. Companies, you know, just give you less cereal, less chips, less rice, less quinoa in the package that you normally buy, hoping you won’t notice and the price won’t even change. It’s hard to really decipher from the data whether this price increase is necessarily? I don’t think anyone can give you that hard evidence. Economists are currently debating this and I will say it gets very hot on twitter.

NIALA: And of course this is also causing a change in consumer behavior. What are we seeing there?

EMILY: A lot of it is, I mean, what you’d expect, people are looking for deals. They are switching from name brands to generics. One big thing grocery analysts tell me is that people are just buying less stuff. So instead of buying a family pack of chicken thighs, she buys a regular pack of chicken thighs and stretches in other ways at mealtime.

Some people buy half gallons of milk instead of full gallons of milk. Also a common theme is fewer trips to the store, right? Because it’s gasoline prices colliding with food prices.

NIALA: So, Emily, how do these food price increases affect consumer confidence this summer?

EMILY: Consumer confidence right now is at record lows. There was the University of Michigan opinion poll that came out last week and it was at an all-time low. People are pessimistic, and this is definitely playing a role. I mean you buy your usual basket of stuff and you’re in for a real surprise when you go and take a look, it’s… it’s pretty wild. And for some people it’s more than that, like more lines at food banks. So this is a real and serious problem.

NIALA: Emily Peck is the market correspondent for Axios. Thank you Emily.

EMILY: Thank you.

NIALA: And we’d love to hear from you what your concerns are about summer when you’re thinking about prices in particular. And we know there’s a lot of gloomy news on inflation, travel and costs for the summer. So if you’d like to share what excites you, we’d love to hear from you, too.

NIALA: We’ll come back with details on the turmoil at the US Supreme Court in a moment.

NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today. I’m Niala Boodhoo. Abortion rights protesters blocked intersections near the US Supreme Court yesterday and the court will soon rule on the constitutionality of a 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi. That decision could overturn Roe vs.

Wade. But since Judge Samuel Alito’s draft opinion on the case was leaked last month, the court has also been conducting an internal investigation that has led to confusion behind the scenes at the court. Axios editor Sam Baker has more on all of this. Hello Sam

SAM BAKER: Good morning Niala.

NIALA: What do we know about the investigation of the source of this opinion leak draft?

SAM: We know enough to know that it doesn’t look like a happy time, inside the Supreme Court. We have seen some reports that this is a very serious investigation led by the bailiff of the Supreme Court. Employees may be asked to hand over their phones or at least provide some of the information that would be stored on their phones. They’re looking at who would have had access to a draft opinion. So, you know, it’s always a tense situation. And then we’ve seen some signs that this is perhaps fading into what the judges have always portrayed as a very cordial working relationship. Looks like things are getting a bit icy now.

NIALA: What signs are we seeing of that?

SAM: We’ve seen Judge Thomas make some public comments recently that his trust in his colleagues was not what it used to be. A source told NPR’s Nina Totenberg that “the place sounds like it’s imploding.”

NIALA: And outside of court, as we were speaking, there were protests yesterday in anticipation of an expected decision on Dobbs versus Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Last week, we heard about the arrest of a man who had a plot to kill Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

How are the authorities preparing for this heated decision?

SAM: Yeah, so in the courtroom itself where this activity is usually concentrated at the end of a term, no matter what the big case is, uh, we’ve seen fences go up. Uh, I live relatively close, it’s the fence of the insurrection, uh, it’s back in anticipation of more protests than usual. And then, as you said, we’ve seen some of this spill over into judges’ houses and that disturbing incident last week. So there’s been a little bit of talk about whether judges need additional security. Usually, you know, they don’t have full-time secret service details like we’re used to seeing the president or something. But obviously there is some kind of need there.

NIALA: Sam Baker is the resident expert for the Supreme Court of Axios. thanks Sam

SAM: Thank you Niala.

BILL BARR: I thought, boy, if he really believes in this stuff, he’s lost touch with, uh, with, uh, he’s cut himself off from reality.

Attorney General Bill Barr has spoken out about former President Trump’s false claim that he won the 2020 presidential election. Barr was one of several members of Trump’s inner circle who testified yesterday on the second day of a round of 6 Committee public hearings. January of the House of Representatives. I asked Axios co-founder Mike Allen to share his analysis from yesterday.

MIKE ALLEN: Niala, this audience was so hot that some people thought this should have been the primetime one. These were real Trump insiders, people used to work for him, flat out saying he was full of election stuff. In deposition clips played by the committee, Bill Barr, Trump’s former attorney general, called Trump’s claims idiotic, stupid, completely absurd and insane.

BARR: I went into this and, you know, I would tell them how crazy some of these allegations were, there was never an indication of interest in what the real facts are.

MIKE: Also in clips played by the committee, Bill Stepien, who was Trump’s campaign manager, said that there were two teams advising Trump after the election. And Stepien said that he was on the “normal team.” And Niala behind the scenes, less than an hour before the hearing began, the committee announced that Bill Stepien could not appear live. It turned out that his wife had gone into labor. The committee had prepared clips to use, depending on what Stephien said during his live testimony. Basically, if he got caught up in something. The committee quickly rewrote the hearing script to play those clips without him being there. Niala was history on the fly.

NIALA: That’s Axios co-founder, and author of the AM newsletter, Mike Allen. And that’s all from us today: text me his comments and story ideas: I’m at (202) 918-4893. This is Niala Boodhoo, thanks for listening, stay safe and see you here tomorrow morning.

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