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And you thought grocery prices were high where you live.

Prices are rising throughout the country, but some places have it a lot worse than others. Conversely, some places have it pretty good in comparison to others. So if you’re considering a move – better check out the local grocery prices first, or you may end up suffering a severe case of sticker shock.

The site Move.org, which helps people find, compare, and hire professional movers, often compares and contrasts the cost of living in various U.S. states. If you’re going to move somewhere, after all, you’re going to need to know how much it’s going to cost you to live there.

So the site recently did some research to discover, and rank, the cost of groceries in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. What it found, was that a basket of groceries that will set you back a mere $183 in New Hampshire, will lighten your wallet by a whopping $556.76 in Hawaii.

Move.org used data from the crowdsourced cost-of-living site Numbeo, adding up the prices of 14 grocery basics, like milk, bread, eggs, and various meat and produce items in each state’s largest city, to assign a rank to each state.

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And Hawaii won, or lost, depending on your perspective. The fact that groceries in the Aloha State cost more than three times as much as in the least expensive state is probably not a surprise to most who live there, or have been there, as it’s a notoriously expensive place to live. But to some, New Hampshire might be looking pretty good in comparison.

Interestingly, New Hampshire’s next-door neighbor Vermont is the second-most expensive state on the list, with the grocery total coming in at just under $500. Alaska, New York and West Virginia round out the top five. Going from the bottom up, after New Hampshire on the least-expensive end of the list is Kansas, followed by Idaho, Utah and Arkansas.

Before you go planning a cross-country move for the sake of a lower grocery bill, though, the problem is that prices are rising all over. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food prices last month were up 2.2% from the same time last year, which itself was up 3.4% from 2019. Major grocery brands from General Mills to Campbell Soup to Pepsico to Conagra have all said they plan to raise prices to help cover their own increased costs.

“No one wants to increase prices,” General Mills CEO Jeff Harmening told investors recently. But “we’ve had to do that because the cost environment is what it is.” Brands are also cutting back on deals. The Wall Street Journal reports that General Mills is offering smaller discounts, while yogurt maker Danone is shifting discounts to some of its more expensive items – so don’t expect to be able to combine coupons and sales for any freebies.

But brands had better not think shoppers aren’t noticing. A recent survey by the market research firm IRI found that 81% of shoppers have already noticed higher prices now than before the coronavirus pandemic, and 84% are concerned that food price inflation is going to have a lasting effect on their budgets. “Stores’ promotional decisions, merchandising and price perceptions are likely to grow more important as a result,” IRI’s Jonna Parker said.

So even New Hampshirites aren’t going to be able to escape higher food prices. But it could be worse – if you find yourself in Hawaii any time soon, better keep an eye on the stores’ weekly ads and stock up when the price is right. And whatever you do – don’t forget your coupons.

Image source: Marco Verch

One Comment

  1. I’d suspect a couple of those high ones are thrown off.

    It’s likely that many in the eastern parts of Vermont do shopping in New Hampshire (given that NH has no sales tax, which isn’t quite as important on foods but if you are going there for other stuff anyway…).

    New York is also going to be hard to classify, as prices in NYC are going to be different from an area like surrounding Albany (far more larger stores and competition), and also from places in the Adirondacks where there may be one small store with a 25-50 mile drive to other options. And a few places in eastern NY along the MA/VT borders people likely shop across the state lines as well, just due to smaller towns where it’s the closest option.

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