Consumer prices are rising, ticking up by 0.9% last month. That’s the largest increase in more than a decade, according to the latest US government figures.
But that figure is just a summary of the overall price picture for American households – the important stuff is in the details.
To see how that top-line number is playing out in everyday life, Insider pored through the tables and plucked out more than 45 product and service prices that have increased by more than 5% since last year.
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Online grocery store Thrive Market sells a ton of healthy and socially conscious products.
It’s great for anyone with dietary restrictions or those looking for healthier snacks.
Thrive Market’s selection is vast, with better prices than health food stores like Whole Foods.
A few members of Insider Reviews have been members of Thrive Market for the past couple of years and rave about the curated selection of healthy and tasty food and snacks.
Related Article Module: Thrive Market is an online grocery store that sells organic foods at wholesale prices – here’s what it’s like to use
If you’re not familiar with Thrive Market, think of it as an online-only, healthier version of Costco. Members pay a yearly fee ($60) that gives them access to food products at relatively low prices and for every membership purchased, Thrive gives one to a family in need. Here’s a full review from one of our senior reporters.
Thrive doesn’t have much in terms of fresh produce so I shop mostly for nonperishable options like pasta and sauces to fill in the gaps after a trip to the grocery store. But my favorite thing about Thrive? Its awesome snack collection.
There are hundreds of tasty goods that often cater to dietary restrictions including gluten-free, keto-friendly, or plant-based. Pricing and availability can vary a bit based on region, so some items may be out of stock in your area.
Here are the best ones we’ve tried and loved from Thrive Market.
I love eating pickles, but it’s hard to take them as an on-the-go snack. Thankfully, popular pickle brand Rick’s Picks offers little snack-size pickles in travel-size, single-serve packaging. I gobble these up whenever I have them on hand. I’ve even thought about pouring some of the leftover brine into a cocktail. They’re low calorie, vegan, gluten-free, and kosher.
I love these because they give you the crunch of a chip and the health factor of eating an apple. I’ve read that it’s relatively easy to dehydrate apples and make them into chips — you literally just stick a tray of apple slices into your oven. But when I don’t have time to do that (which is often), I go for these organic snacks that are gluten-free and non-GMO. Bonus: You get both Fuji and red apples in every pack.
I always loved Pirate’s Booty when I was a kid, and these taste just like them but with a way more amped-up flavor. There’s a salty tang to these, probably because buttermilk is one of the ingredients in this gluten-free, non-GMO snack.
These fruit bars are sweet without being cloying, and they only contain apples and cherries — absolutely no other ingredients added. I love to grab one of these bars for breakfast when I want to start off my day with fiber, vitamin C, and a little natural sugar. They’re small enough to feel like a snack, but substantial enough to stave off my hunger at the beginning of the day. They come in other delicious flavors as well, including Apple and Strawberry, Apple and Mango, and Apple and Blueberry.
Thrive Market Non-GMO Avocado Oil Potato Chips, Salt & Vinegar
I never really considered dragon fruit as a snack or smoothie addition until I tried Starbucks’ Mango Dragonfruit Refresher. I loved that the dried dragon fruit pieces in the drink were sweet with a little tang, and of course, they turned my drink pink. I bought these fruit chips looking for a similar experience, and I’ve found it’s a fun fruit to snack on when I’m looking to mix things up. They have a good amount of fiber and vitamin C, and since they only contain one ingredient — dragon fruit — they can an easy snack for those who are looking for something paleo, gluten-free, or vegan.
If I had to describe Zellee’s Fruit Jel in three words, they would be “Jell-O, but healthy.” These tasty snacks come in individual pouches you usually see with baby food or applesauce, so they’re convenient to take on the go. They taste like real fruit and get their jelly-ness from konjac root, so there’s no gelatin and therefore, no bovines were harmed in the making of this product. They’re vegan, gluten-free, and organic.
The plantain chips are made out of three ingredients —plantains, non-hydrogenated vegetable oil, and sea salt — and they’re delicious on their own or with a dip. Expect to open and finish a bag of these in one or two sittings, even though it’s a pretty good size for $2 per bag. They’re also vegan, non-GMO, and free of preservatives and sweeteners and additives. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter
Simple Mills Fine Ground Sea Salt Almond Flour Crackers
These dark chocolate almonds are expensive at $15, but they’re also delicious and the chocolate is layered on nice and thick over the almonds. The bag is decently sized, so it lasted me a few sweet-tooth snacking sessions. They’re also certified organic and reportedly ethically sourced. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter
Whole Foods is planning layoffs as part of a larger restructuring of its business, the company confirmed to Insider on Thursday.
Whole Foods told Insider that it expects the layoffs to impact a small, but at this point unknown, number of corporate employees, and that employees who work at its stores and distribution centers will not be impacted.
In a press release, the Amazon-owned grocery chain said it’s planning changes involving its merchandising and operations, team member services, and technology teams in order to sustain its pandemic growth.
“These changes are designed to improve support for our stores and distribution centers as we remain committed to delivering an exceptional customer experience in stores and online,” Whole Foods said in the release.
The company said it plans to merge its global and regional merchandising teams, “realign” its team member services group, and shift its technology team “to focus more on skills required for software engineering and technical product and program manager roles.”
Whole Foods has seen explosive growth during the pandemic, with online grocery sales tripling during its second quarter of 2020 as the pandemic forced Americans to stay home.
“We’ve got a lot of excitement around those ‘better for you brands’,” Lissette said.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, consumers had been buying healthier snacks. A summary report by Health Focus International found people are also willing to pay more for foods and beverages that are both healthy and indulgent.
Utz’s lineup of healthy snacks includes Veggie Chips, Half Naked Popcorn, and potato chips cooked in olive oil and avocado oil, according to the company’s website.
In the company’s earnings report on Thursday, Utz’s CFO Cary Devore said that the company saw a “significant” increase in new buyers and higher purchase repeat rates over the past year.
This week, Sam’s Club CEO Kathryn McLay told The New York Times in an interview that the retailer’s customers went through phases when they were buying pizza, ice cream, and potato chips during COVID-19. Sam’s Club called those periods “carbs and calories,” she said.
Utz plans to grow sales and reach new customers in 2021 by increasing its digital advertising spend by 60% and potentially more, Lissette told CNBC.
Social media and digital ads do well compared to having one commercial that runs through the year “and realizing it didn’t really give you what you needed,” he added.
The annual cost of accessing Costco’s low prices on groceries is about to increase, according to a new analyst note from Wells Fargo.
The grocery chain’s Gold Star membership plan is expected to increase in price this year, for its basic “Everyday” and premium “Executive” memberships.
The prediction is based on the company’s history of increasing its membership pricing gradually over time, approximately every 5.5 years. “The membership fee looks poised to increase in the next 18 months,” the note viewed by Fox Business said, “and represents a potential catalyst for sales and earnings.”
The price increase would have a much greater impact on Costco’s bottom line than it did back in 2017: There are over 108 million Costco members, as of February 14, according to the company.
Costco representatives were unable to be reached for comment as of publishing.
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Imperfect Foods is a service that delivers seasonal, cosmetically imperfect produce at affordable prices.
It markets itself as a solution to food waste, but there are debates about whether this is disingenuous given the complexity of the nation’s food system.
Still, it’s a convenient and affordable way to get your weekly produce but with one caveat – if you live in a city where it’s available.
I used Imperfect Foods for six months while living in the Bay Area and loved receiving a box of “ugly” but fresh and seasonable vegetables and fruits every two weeks.
Table of Contents: Masthead StickyGrocery Delivery Fee (small)
During my last year of college, I juggled multiple identities.
I was a senior looking to squeeze more time out of the dwindling weeks with my fellow soon-to-be graduates. I was a part-time marketing assistant stumbling through a winding job hunt. And most humorous to all my friends, I was an unofficial Imperfect Foods ambassador.
What is Imperfect Foods?
I got the title because I excitedly worked the San Francisco-based grocery delivery service into every conversation possible. The concept – seasonal, cosmetically imperfect produce delivered to your house at affordable prices, as part of a larger mission of reducing food waste – intrigued me, so I tried my first box and became hooked right away.
The quality of the produce was great and everything always tasted delicious. I didn’t have to wait on the very unreliable buses in Berkeley to take me to and from the grocery store, and the total bill was reasonable even on a student budget.
Plus, little ol’ me felt like I was saving these poor fruits and vegetables from being thrown away and wasted, helping the bottom lines of local farmers and producers.
Since its inception, Imperfect Foods has expanded its offerings to include grains like rice and quinoa, dairy like eggs and milk, and canned goods. Amid current travel restrictions in spring 2020 due to the novel coronavirus, it also offered airline snacks like Biscoff cookies normally handed out on Delta flights and cheese and snack boxes usually available on JetBlue flights.
Does buying cosmetically imperfect produce help the food system?
There has been some pushback against the idea that services such as Imperfect Foods and its competitor Misfits Market actually solve a problem in the country’s complex and broken food system.
Knowing what I do now, I’m warier of how ugly produce companies frame and market themselves. However, the ongoing conversations among food system experts and scientists, farmers, and the companies themselves don’t change my positive experiences with using Imperfect Foods as an affordable way to get my groceries.
For what it’s worth, community-supported agriculture (CSA) efforts like co-ops are full of local produce if you’re able to carry heavy boxes home easily, but for city dwellers, this can be tough to do. Farmers’ markets might not be available in your area or operate during times you can shop. The major advantage of Imperfect Foods is that you can order online and produce is delivered directly to your home.
What makes an imperfect fruit or vegetable?
Imperfect Foods defines “imperfect” in several ways: cosmetic damage, surplus or excess inventory, undervalued or lack of demand, or doesn’t meet a strict specification from the buyer, usually in the way it’s harvested or packaged.
A significant portion of the country’s produce is grown in California, so the majority of Imperfect’s fruits and vegetables come from there. It says it tries to source locally when possible, but sourcing ultimately depends on seasonality and availability. In total, it works with over 200 growers nationwide and sources most of its produce (78%) from family farms or cooperatives.
For produce with cosmetic damage, Imperfect checks quality to make sure it’s only the shape, size, or color that’s affected. It says, “To end up in your box, a piece of produce must be just as fresh, tasty, and nutritious (if not more so!) as its grocery store counterpart.”
How to order from Imperfect Foods
Imperfect offers a variety of different “default” boxes, which you can then further customize the contents.
To start, choose from a box of all fruit, all veggie, mixed fruit and veggie, or organic. Then choose the box size and the shipping frequency. I usually ordered a medium-sized mixed fruit and veggie box, to be delivered every two weeks.
Below is an example of one of my orders.
The fruits and veggies in your box are preset based on seasonal availability, but you can take out or add more of any item.
Though some people might not like the limited selection when compared to a traditional grocery store, I liked this design more than I expected. I can get in the habit of buying the same, predictable produce every time I go grocery shopping, so to be faced with preset, limited options was actually a fun challenge that added more variety and creativity to my cooking.
It also helped me enjoy fruits and veggies at their peak seasonality, and thus, their peak taste. When I had dozens of options, seasonal and non-seasonal, at my disposal at the local grocery store, I sometimes found myself gravitating towards my favorite produce, regardless of whether it was the optimal time to purchase and eat it.
The quality of the produce from Imperfect Foods
The quality of the produce I received was consistently good. Many of the physical imperfections weren’t even that drastic, and they didn’t affect the ultimate taste of the fruit or vegetable.
Prior to using Imperfect Foods, I didn’t love the idea of not having control over the exact apple or carrot I’d be eating, but I eventually realized it was futile to be nitpicky about how beautiful my produce was. I learned firsthand from Imperfect Foods that it all tasted the same.
The price of produce with Imperfect Foods
Depending on which size box you get, you’ll be paying $11 to $27 for seven to 25 pounds of produce. The price for everything in my medium boxes was usually around $15, which was about the same, if not less, than how much I was paying for the same amount of produce from my local grocery store at the time.
The plus, however, is that it was delivered safely to my door so I didn’t have to spend time and energy grocery shopping in person. This combination of convenience, price, and produce quality (despite the physical imperfections) was why I told anyone who would listen to try Imperfect Foods.
Availability of the service
Imperfect Foods is currently available in the Midwest, Northeast, all along the West Coast, and in most of the West South Central region.
The bottom line
If you’re in a region in which Imperfect Food delivers, I couldn’t recommend the service and produce more. It’s a convenient way to get fresh fruit and veggies that have the same nutritional value and taste like something you’d find in your local grocery store.
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Walmart+ members can scan items in-store and pay for their entire cart from their phones.
Scan & Go is fast and easy to use, and it limits direct contact with store employees.
It works best if the regular checkout line is busy and you don’t need to buy produce or alcohol.
Table of Contents: Masthead StickyMonthly Subscription (small)
There are many ways to get your weekly groceries from Walmart, including shopping in person, picking up an online order at the store, or having your items shipped directly to your home.
Members of Walmart’s premium Walmart+ program have another option. Scan & Go is a Walmart app feature that promises to streamline the store shopping experience and reduce in-person contact, so you can get on your way quickly and safely.
I tested Scan & Go at my local Walmart to see whether it really made shopping easier and whether it’s a valuable benefit of the Walmart+ membership ($12.95/month). In my experience, the feature isn’t perfect, but it works well under the right circumstances.
How Walmart’s mobile Scan & Go feature works
First, you need to download the Walmart shopping app. You can find Scan & Go in the Services menu at the bottom of the app.
You must be near or inside a store in order for the Scan & Go feature to activate. My app was a bit finicky in the beginning and kept saying I wasn’t near a store. After about six tries, I was finally able to activate Scan & Go.
From there, the process was easy and intuitive. For any item I wanted to add to my cart, I just scanned its barcode with my phone camera. The barcode scanner worked quickly and perfectly every time, and I didn’t even need to stand that close to the item.
The app keeps a running list of all the items you’ve scanned so far and a cart subtotal. You can adjust the quantity or delete an item if you no longer need it.
You can also exit the Scan & Go feature at any time. Walmart will save your cart’s contents and won’t charge you.
You can scan most items in the store. The two exceptions, however, are inconvenient:
Produce that needs to be weighed: Produce must be brought to the self-checkout station to be weighed.
Alcohol: Alcohol can only be purchased at a regular checkout station because a store associate needs to check your ID.
Once you’re done shopping, you can’t just walk right out of the store – you must stop by the self-checkout area and scan a QR code on one of the station’s screens.
Then, you’ll complete your payment on your phone with the card on file. Payment is quick and you’ll receive your receipt right away.
How Scan & Go compares to a regular shopping and checkout experience
For consistency, I bought the same six items (strawberries, prosciutto, jam, a personal blender, leggings, and sunscreen) twice, once with Scan & Go, and once with regular checkout.
Scan & Go is well-designed and made it as easy as possible for me to buy the items on my list and get in and out of the store quickly. Perhaps because it was a new feature and system to learn, it still felt slightly clunky for me to pull out my phone every time to scan an item, then make sure it made it into the app’s cart. The inability to directly scan weighed produce and alcohol – while understandable – are big drawbacks to the feature, and so I’d only recommend Scan & Go if you’re buying everything except produce and alcohol. I had no problem shopping for clothing, appliances, and packaged foods, and you shouldn’t either.
Shopping without Scan & Go also went well, though in the age of the coronavirus pandemic, you might be wary to interact directly with store employees, and that’s where the contactless nature of Scan & Go excels. I visited my local Walmart on a Tuesday morning and it wasn’t too busy then: There were two manned checkout stations open, and three to four people in a line to each. The line moved quickly.
Scan & Go mobile app
Regular shopping and checkout
Total time spent in the store
Lets you shop and check out independently and contact-free
Barcode scanner is quick and accurate
The step-by-step process from adding an item to final checkout is organized and well-designed
Digital receipt only
Adding items to your cart is less clunky
Likely to be faster if your store isn’t busy
No limits to product types
You must buy weighed produce and alcohol separately
App may glitch
Stopping to scan each item can feel clunky if you’re a new user
You must interact with a store employee at checkout
There may be long waits at checkout
When you should use it
You want to shop in the store but don’t want to speak to store associates
Your grocery list does not include produce or alcohol
The regular checkout line is long and requires a long wait
You prefer a digital receipt
Your store isn’t busy and there isn’t a long wait at checkout
Your grocery list includes produce and alcohol
You prefer a paper receipt
The bottom line
With enough practice, using Walmart’s Scan & Go mobile feature could become second-nature. It’s a safer way to shop in a physical store since you do all the scanning and paying from your own phone, plus it’s convenient because your credit card information is already stored in the app. However, it’s not an end-all-be-all solution, and you’ll need to evaluate yourself the best time to use it.