A Look Back At Food Prices In 1976. How Much Have Food Prices Really Increased In The Last 40 Years?
If you do the supermarket shopping and pay attention to prices, you may have noticed that most items seem to have gone up in price significantly or shrunk in size over the last few years. But have prices really gone up that much over the long run?
We decided to take a look back at three supermarket ads from September 1, 1976 in the Evening News which covered the Hudson Valley in the suburbs of New York City.
The advertisers were Grand Union Supermarkets which were spread throughout the northeast and in business from 1872 – 2013. A&P Supermarkets were in business from 1859 until last year. And ShopRite Supermarkets, founded in 1946 which is still in business and going strong.
Here are closeups of portions of the full page ads and below that is a chart with 1976 supermarket food prices versus 2016 prices. Click to enlarge:
In the chart below comprised from these ads, we did not include any generic store brands and tried to match the size being offered in 1976 to a similar quantity in 2016. The 2016 price is an approximation of New York – New Jersey suburb prices in supermarkets located in Rockland and Bergen Counties respectively.
|Product||1976 Price||Approximate 2016 Price|
|Seedless Grapes – 1 lb.||.49||3.29|
|Bartlett Pears – 3 lbs.||1.00||4.47|
|Eggplant – 1 lb.||.25||.99|
|Eggs Grade A – 1 dozen||.79||1.99|
|Chicken Breasts w / wings Grade A – 1 lb.||.59||3.19|
|Filet Mignon USDA Choice – 1 lb.||2.49||10.99|
|Sirloin Steak USDA Choice – 1 lb.||1.27||6.99|
|Sweet Corn – 10 ears||.79||4.99|
|Valencia Oranges size 88 – 10 for||.99||7.99|
|San Giorgio Ziti Pasta – 1 lb. box – 3 for||.88||2.97|
|Starkist Chunk Light Tuna – 6 ½ oz. can||.49||1.69|
|8 O’Clock Coffee – 1 lb.||1.69||4.99 (12 oz.)|
|Duncan Hines Brownie Mix – 19 oz.||.79||4.49 (18 oz.)|
|Coca Cola – 64 oz.||.69||1.59 (2 lt.)|
|Uncle Ben’s Rice – 10 lbs.||2.99||13.99|
|Keebler Chocolate Chip Cookies -14 oz.||.75||3.49|
|Hillshire Farms Polish Kielbasa – 1 lb.||1.39||4.99 (13 oz.)|
From what we can see prices on most items have at least tripled and quadrupled. Taking inflation into account, today’s prices are still very much in line with what they were 40 years ago. The largest price increases have been with fruits such as grapes, oranges and pears.
Many brands that were advertised are no longer in business or were swallowed up by larger corporations and renamed or eliminated. The generic store brands of both Grand Union and A&P are no longer manufactured with the exception of 8 O’Clock Coffee.
If only stores could once again stock something like the Welcome Back Kotter “Sweathog” Epstein book cover offered for free at Grand Union. Maybe they could give away something that would reflect the intellect of the modern TV audience that watches Keeping Up With The Kardashian’s – how about an empty box?