Sizzling food prices are searing a big hole in already cash-strapped Americans wallets this summer.
The FOX Business Shopping Cart leaped $4.58, or a staggering 6.3%, in June from the same period last year. The price of the 30-item bundle of everyday food items did, however, moderate 24 cents from May to June.
Despite the surge in food costs, average hourly wages have only risen a relatively miniscule 1.9% since last June -- the slowest pace since 2004 -- according to data from the Labor Department. Indeed, the average worker now needs to work for nearly four hours to afford the cart, up 10 minutes, or 4.3%, from June of last year.
The cart encompasses daily necessities, such as butter, bread and lettuce as well as more indulgent buys such as potato chips, ice cream and malt beverages. Prices heated up across every food group, with 24 out of 30 items seeing year-over-year increases.
Butter, a staple in essentially every refrigerator, posted the biggest gain, with prices spiking 65 cents, or 22%, from last year. Other refrigerator goodies like eggs and milk will set you back considerably more this year than last -- climbing 13% and 10% respectively.
If bologna and American cheese sandwiches suit your fancy, you may be in luck. The cost of the cheese and meat both fell more than 2%; the only catch is that the bread will cost you 8% more this year. Go ahead and throw some slices of fresh tomato on, though, because tomato prices are down 2%, but skip the lettuce -- it jumped 9%.
For dinner, grill up a sirloin steak, it will cost you 2% less this year. A splash of lemon would make a lovely topping, and, conveniently, the sour fruit fell 8%, which is the biggest decline of any single item.
Ease off the bacon cheese burgers, however, because prices for the smoky, salty slabs of pork surged 20%, while ground chuck rose 8% in price. Its probably better to skip baked potatoes and potato chips as side dishes, both increased in price markedly.
Dessert is sure to present a tough squeeze, too. Chocolate chip cookies, ice cream and apples all appreciated more than 1%. Trying to bake your own sugar cookies might not be the best idea, either: flour, sugar and butter were among the top gainers in June.