The biggest threat to your grocery budget in 2018

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The biggest threat to your grocery budget in 2018
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If you’ve been following money expert Clark Howard for a while, you’ve probably heard him talk about how competition has led to lower grocery prices over the past year.

That’s obviously great news for shoppers, but it’s not so good for the farmers who grow our food.

RELATED: 21 ways to spend less money at the grocery store

Your grocery dollar may go further in 2018 than ever before

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that a global oversupply has resulted in low crop and livestock prices, which is hurting states with big agricultural industries.

Then there’s the grocery price war that we’ve seen play out — and it’s not letting up.

“It looks like 2018 is going to be the cheapest year for you to buy groceries versus your income in the history of any such stats ever being kept,” Clark said.

In the past year alone, Amazon purchased Whole Foods, Lidl entered the U.S., Aldi announced expansion plans and stores like Walmart and Kroger aggressively cut prices.

Here are just a few of the headlines we’ve been following at Clark.com:

Listen to Clark talk about food prices on The Clark Howard Show Podcast

The competition is so cutthroat that Clark says some midsize supermarkets are struggling just to survive.

Those stores are particularly worried about Aldi and Lidl, two grocers with German roots that have developed loyal followings because of their ultra-low prices.

In November, I found these deals at a new Lidl store in Culpeper, Virginia:

  • Sweet potatoes: $0.49/pound
  • Family pack of chicken breasts: $1.59/pound
  • Sliced cheese: $0.62/package
  • Take and bake pizza: $4.84/each
  • Large eggs: $0.28/dozen
New Lidl store in Culpeper, Virginia

RELATED: 15 things to know before your first trip to Lidl

Beware the rise of the ‘grocerant’

Aldi and Lidl are smaller than regular grocery stores, so they stick to the basics. The retailers attract customers who are most interested in value, not bells and whistles.

And that brings us to the biggest threat to your grocery budget: the “grocerant.”

Many of the supermarkets that have lowered prices are trying to increase profits by adding restaurants — either fast-casual or sit-down — within the grocery store.

You can also expect more of an emphasis on grab-and-go salad bars and prepared foods counters.

Although stores may try to get you to buy these impulse convenience foods, it’s best to avoid them if you’re trying keep your grocery bill as low as possible.

If you leave those items out of your cart, managing your food budget could be a lot easier in 2018!

“This is your time to not have to struggle to stretch your grocery dollar because the marketplace is already doing it for you,” Clark said.

Have you noticed lower grocery prices? Tell us where you shop and why in the comments below.

RELATED: This retail secret may trick right-handed shoppers into spending more money

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Mike Timmermann About the author:
Michael Timmermann paid off his mortgage in two years. Now, he shares his money-saving tips on his blog, Save on Almost Everything.
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