Feeling The Pinch

Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 3:03pm

Food and gasoline prices grow at record rates.

Higher gas prices have begun burning a hole in other parts of the economy.

The consumer price index was up last month, led by the biggest jump in food prices in four decades, partly because getting that food to market now costs so much more.

On Thursday Kimberly-Clark announced price increases for its Huggies diapers and Cottonelle bathroom tissue, partly because of the cost of oil.

Crude prices have risen sharply since the beginning of the year because of turmoil in the Middle East.

That's the main reason behind last month's 3.9 percent increase in wholesale food prices, the biggest increase since November 1974.

Increased transportation costs are hitting grocery stores and restaurants.

"99 percent of the products we use have gone up double and some triple," says restaurant owner George Gregory.

Gregory says he'll soon have to raise prices as well.

The weather is adding to the food price problem, too.

From the winter freezes in Florida to the excessive snow in the Upper Midwest, where residents are preparing for spring floods that threaten U.S. wheat crops.

"We're talking about river levels potentially we haven't seen in 40 plus years," says St. Paul Emergency Management's Rick Larkin.

Bigger food and gas bills could adversely affect an already fragile economic recovery.

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