If you’re planning a Fourth of July cookout this week, you’re likely to find some good deals on what you need, as grocery stores have been ramping up their holiday-themed promotions.

But what happens next week when the party’s over? It’s back to grocery store sticker shock. So a bipartisan group of Congressional lawmakers says it’s time for the government to get involved in lowering grocery prices.

Republican U.S. Representative Marc Molinaro and Democrat Pat Ryan, who represent neighboring suburban New York Congressional districts, have introduced what they’re calling the Lower Grocery Prices Act, which aims to “rein in the price of groceries and address the cost of living crisis” for consumers in their districts and beyond. The bill is co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Juan Ciscomani of Arizona and Rep. Don Davis of North Carolina.

The measure would require the U.S. Government Accountability Office to produce a report analyzing the price of groceries over the past 20 years, and develop a national plan to combat high grocery prices.

“Ahead of July 4th, as we all gather for barbecues, beers, and parades, I’m taking direct action to bring down costs and deliver relief,” Ryan said in a statement. “As Upstate New Yorkers are stocking up on groceries for July 4th, it’s hard to ignore the skyrocketing prices,” Molinaro added. “We shop at Sam’s Club or Hannaford every week and know we are all paying too much for too little.”

The Government Accountability Office has already analyzed the past ten years of grocery prices, in a report it released last year. “While food prices generally increased about 2% in prior years, they increased about 11% from 2021 to 2022,” it found. But while some have blamed manufacturers and retailers for contributing to higher prices with profit-motivated “greedflation,” the GAO report largely blamed external factors like problems with supply chains.


“By addressing supply chain disruptions, the federal government may indirectly take action to address rising food prices,” the report concluded.

But that’s not good enough for the authors of the Lower Grocery Prices Act, or for shoppers who are tired of paying too much to put food on the table. Since that GAO report, the Federal Trade Commission issued its own report this past spring, accusing some retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers of using “rising costs as an opportunity to further hike prices to increase their profits… even as supply chain pressures have eased.” And in May, a group of Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to use his “executive authority to take additional action to address rising food prices without congressional action.”

While the prices of grocery commodities like eggs, meat and produce can frequently fluctuate, the general rule of thumb when it comes to grocery inflation on most other products is that what goes up typically doesn’t come down. “We don’t take something that was $1, move it to $1.10, and then a year or two later, move it to $1” when inflation eases, the Utz snack food company’s then-CEO Dylan Lissette explained a couple of years ago.

So several retailers have taken matters into their own hands, making splashy announcements about cutting prices on thousands of items – and blaming manufacturers for not doing their part. Some grocery manufacturers “are just making flat out more profit,” Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen told investors last month. “So we think they actually have room to even further invest in trade dollars,” which would allow retailers to offer more promotions and lower prices.

But while retailers and manufacturers point fingers, shoppers are pointing a finger – at the government. A recent survey by The Feedback Group found that shoppers blame “government policies and actions” for grocery inflation, ahead of both manufacturers and retailers.

So if government is the problem, perhaps government is the solution. Representatives Molinaro and Ryan sure hope so. In the meantime, if you haven’t gone shopping for your Fourth of July cookout yet, better get to it – before those grocery prices go up even more.

Image source: Virginia Retail

One Comment

  1. Congress, “in a bipartisan fashion,” wants to lower food prices. In an election year.

    What could possibly go wrong?

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