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The Los Angeles Times reports this morning that Southern California shoppers are paying the highest grocery prices in the nation, and that food prices during April were 4.9 percent higher than during the same month a year ago. National food prices were up 3.9 percent for the same month.

The Times writes, “Prices vary from store to store and are hard to compare, but the increases over the last year are hard to miss on the shelves of Southern California supermarkets.

“The base price for milk in California is up 30% from a year earlier. Nationally, milk is up 3.2%.

“The price of a pound of oranges in Southern California has jumped nearly 75% to more than $1. Nationally, they have climbed 34.1%.

“A 1-pound package of ground beef at Ralphs has risen 16% to $2.89 in the last year, according to TheGroceryGame.com, which tracks prices. Nationally, ground beef is up 2.7%.

“Twelve ounces of Tyson Frozen Chicken Nuggets at Ralphs are $4.59, up 18% from about a year ago. Chicken is up 5.5% nationally.

“A box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese at the supermarket chain is 25% more than a year ago, while the price of a 34.5-ounce container of Folger's coffee is up 30 cents to $9.69. Nationally, the price of coffee rose 4.9% in April compared with a year earlier, government data showed.

“At Vons, red seedless grapes are up 17% from about a year ago to $3.49 a pound.”

The problems, according to the story, can be traced to both weather conditions that have raised the cost of certain items, the increased fuel and transportation costs, and the “cost of grain, which has soared as an ever-growing amount of corn is diverted to make ethanol to mix with gasoline.”
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