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Why The High Price of This Beloved Food Still Won't Come Down

The pandemic caused the cost of this grocery staple to rise — and it's not coming down anytime soon.

For a while now, vegetarians and meat-lovers alike have embraced plant-based foods. The health benefits are widely known, and meat alternatives are normal at restaurants. But now the trend of eating less meat is not as popular for health reasons as it is for another simple reason: the cost.

When the coronavirus pandemic started in March, grocery stores suddenly faced stocking issues as people kept bulk buying items like eggs, flour, and of course, toilet paper. But one item that saw an early price increase still hasn't budged, even though sales went up almost 25% from the beginning of the year until now.

Related: Here's Exactly How a Plant-Based Diet Can Protect You From Disease, According to Experts

The price of meat rose after many meatpacking plants had to shut down because of employees infected with the virus. So although there was enough meat to satisfy an increase in demand, there weren't enough people working to package and ship it all. That meant prices increased to double and triple the regular amount. But people keep buying it — resulting in 1.2 billion more pounds of meat sold recently than this time last year, according to Supermarket News.

Ground beef is still looking at a 28.4% increase in price data from early May to early June shows. Fresh pork, too, is 17% more expensive now than it was a year ago. Other varieties, like chicken, turkey, and lamb also have a higher price tag, but only cust about 10% more. The constant change in demand is keeping prices high — at first, people bought more, then less. Restaurants bought less and now they are reopening and buying again.

Read more: We Tried 5 Plant-Based Fast Food Sandwiches & This Was the Clear Winner

The continuous price change is forcing many people to observe where they can limit meat in their diet, replacing it with plant-based protein or meat alternatives like Impossible Burgers, veggie burgers, and even plant-based chicken. Eggs, a great protein source, have also seen their fair share of demand, and prices show it. In March, a dozen eggs cost around $3, when normally it costs about $1.

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Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
Amanda McDonald
Amanda has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in digital journalism from Loyola University Chicago. Read more about Amanda