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Mom Leaves The Grocery Store With Only 3 Items And Her Total Is $125

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woman who spent $125 on three grocery items

Pretty much all of us feel it every time we go to the checkout — grocery prices are completely out of control. One mom's recent shopping trip illustrated just how absurdly out of whack things have gotten.

The mom spent $125 on three grocery items on a recent shopping trip. 

Thankfully, grocery prices are no longer rising at the astonishing rates they did from 2021 to 2023. The latest figures show grocery inflation has slowed to 2.9%, below the overall inflation rate of 3.1%, which itself is a steep decline from the staggering heights it reached in 2022.

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But that doesn't mean prices are actually going down at the store. For one, that's not how decreasing inflation actually works, but also because food companies (as well as many other industries) are using inflation as cover to keep prices artificially high, a practice known as "greedflation."

That is all but certainly part of why mom and TikToker @lmackw's recent grocery shopping trip resulted in an absurd receipt that had many people shaking their heads, if not screaming in rage. 

What skyrocketed the mom's grocery bill up to $125 was two cans of baby formula — each priced at $52 a can.

"Anybody wondering what it's like to live in America?" the mom asked as she got into her car at the grocery store. "I just left the store with one of these dishwasher pods and two cans of formula for my baby," she said, exasperation audible in her voice. "Let me show you the total." 

   

   

She then tilted her camera down to reveal her receipt, which showed a staggering total of $125. The dishwasher pods cost $12.94 plus tax. But it was the formula that left most viewers shocked: a staggering $52 a can, plus tax. "$52 for formula is outrageous," one commenter wrote.

And in a sign of just how much grocery prices have squeezed everyone, whether they have kids or not, many online were not even surprised by her total. "I don't have kids and I said 'That's over $100 for sure,'" another user wrote. "It's getting hard with pets, [I don't know] how anyone can afford kids."

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Like many other groceries, baby formula prices have increased dramatically, and price-gouging is a major factor.

If you think back to the darkest days of the pandemic, you may remember that a baby formula shortage occurred early in 2020. Costs began to skyrocket soon thereafter, and formula has been subject to repeated price spikes and shortages ever since, soaring to an all-time high in the spring of 2023.

People on TikTok, including @lmackw, certainly remember. "My last baby was born May 2020 and there were times we couldn’t even get ahold of ANY formula," she wrote in a comment. "They have us in a chokehold."

   

   

That chokehold is extremely unlikely to abate. Manufacturers have blamed formula prices on supposedly costly government regulations enacted in 2022 to ensure shortages don't happen again. It seems manufacturers believe that if you want affordable formula, you must agree to allow them to hold your ability to feed your baby hostage at any moment with total impunity.

Still, even in our absurd economic and business climate, $52 is an absolutely insane price. In 2019, baby formula cost an average of 9 to 32 cents an ounce. By 2022, it had risen to 54 cents to $1.15 per ounce — if you were buying it at discounters like Sam's Club or Costco, that is. 

The price has only risen more since then. And if it seems like this cannot possibly be anything besides purposeful price-gouging by manufacturers, that's because it is.

   

   

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More than half of the 'inflation' we saw in 2023 was simply profiteering and price-gouging.

The problem is so widespread with regard to baby formula that in December of 2023, the World Health Organization called on world governments to take action on corporations willfully manipulating the price of formula, so much so that black markets have now emerged in many countries.

But it's not just formula makers doing the gouging — it's everyone. One recent report found "resounding evidence" that 53% of the price increases we saw in 2023 weren't inflation at all but rather just good old-fashioned profiteering, aka "greedflation."

Why are corporations doing this? Because they can.

“This is a form of implicit collusion,” economist Isabella Weber recently told The Guardian. “Firms do not even need to talk to one another to know that a cost shock is a great time to raise prices. But when costs fall, price-setting firms do not have any incentive to decrease prices."

“We’ve decided as a country that we like to have very large, powerful corporations and we are OK with them being very profitable,” Weber went on to say. “We need to take a really hard look at how our tax code incentivizes corporate profiteering and ask: ‘Do we as a country want to do something about that?’”

   

   

There's an election coming up in November, of course. Voting for people who don't make eliminating corporate tax rates and opposing even minor checks on corporate power part of their platforms might be a good idea.

Because, at this point, short of building our own individual farms and dropping out of the economy altogether, it's our only recourse. "Chokehold," indeed.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.