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What We're Buying: From Sourdough Effect to Frozen Pizza Effect

New numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows consumers in Northern Virginia are looking for comfort food.

When the coronavirus crisis first struck, the supply chain fell apart and people stocked up on just about everything at your local grocery store. Now everybody has fallen into a rhythm, and new numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show an interesting new trend in Northern Virginia, a 12 percent increase in prices in a category they call “other food at home,” frozen foods, prepared salads, soups, snacks and sweets.

Robert Kelley at Virginia Commonwealth University says consumers are buying comfort food, and grocers are responding by raising prices.  "People really gravitated to comfort and alcohol and pizza was a huge winner and then I think probably looking for something other than take home from a restaurant that you didn’t have to cook.”

Michael Farren at George Mason University says the consumer price index is also reveal something about Northern Virginia.  “Essentially what we’re seeing is more and more people in Northern Virginia area are eating from home. But they’re not necessarily doing as much increased cooking from home as the rest of the country is.”

Early in the pandemic, the numbers showed what some called a sourdough effect where people were at home baking. Perhaps this new trend in Northern Virginia could be called the next phase of the pandemic, the frozen pizza effect.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.