Fox continues to mislead about grocery inflation

A Fox host dismissed the role of corporate greed in price increases during the pandemic, and other Fox personalities hammered Biden on grocery inflation even as it remained flat for the second month in a row

A Fox Business graphic showing prices for multiple food items dropping over the previous year

Following a March 2024 inflation report slightly above expectations — but which showed zero inflation in grocery prices for the second month in a row — Fox personalities misleadingly portrayed food prices as being on the rise, while one Fox host dismissed the role of corporate greed in price increases that have occurred since 2021. A recent report from the Federal Trade Commission, however, showed that major grocery companies raised prices higher than their costs during the pandemic and are still keeping their prices at an elevated level.

This follows Fox attacking Biden over grocery costs throughout February and March, even though the February inflation report showed zero food inflation as well.

After the Federal Trade Commission exposed price gouging by supermarkets, a Fox host dismissed the role of corporate greed in food price inflation

On March 21, the FTC released a report on grocery supply chain disruptions during the pandemic, which “revealed that large market participants accelerated and distorted the negative effects associated with supply chain disruptions.” The FTC’s report spelled out how large grocery companies raised their prices higher than their costs, leading to increased profits at the expense of consumers:

The report found that consumers felt the negative effects of supply chain disruptions in the form of sky rocketing prices for groceries and product shortages for essentials, like toilet paper. 

Notably, consumers are still facing the negative impact of the pandemic’s price hikes, as the Commission’s report finds that some in the grocery retail industry seem to have used rising costs as an opportunity to further raise prices to increase their profits, which remain elevated today.

“As the pandemic illustrated, a major shock to the supply chain can have cascading effects on consumers, including the prices they pay for groceries,” said FTC Chair Lina M. Khan. “The FTC’s report examining U.S. grocery supply chains finds that dominant firms used this moment to come out ahead at the expense of their competitors and the communities they serve.”

Grocery retailer profits rose & remain elevated: Food and beverage retailer revenues increased to more than 6% over total costs in 2021, higher than their most recent peak in 2015 of 5.6%. In the first three-quarters of 2023, retailer profits rose even more, with revenue reaching 7% over total costs, casting doubt on the assertions of some companies that rising prices at the grocery store are the result of retailers’ own rising costs.

The FTC’s report was widely covered by news organizations. Yet despite these facts, today Fox host Carley Shimkus dismissed President Biden drawing attention to corporate greed as a factor contributing to higher food costs. On Fox & Friends, Shimkus said: “One of the things he did yesterday, and we’ve heard him do it before, is he blamed supermarkets, and saying that supermarkets are charging more because they want to make more money. Really?” Co-host Steve Doocy seemed to agree, adding: “Yeah, it can’t be his policy.”

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Citation From the April 11, 2024, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends

And it isn’t just major supermarkets taking advantage of inflation to increase profits. Reporting has shown that major food producers also posted huge profits after increasing prices from 2022 to 2023. As economist and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich noted after yesterday’s consumer price index report, corporations “can get away with price gouging” because of a lack of competition in food production industries.

Other Fox personalities misleadingly portrayed food inflation as continuing to increase even though it remained at zero for the second month in a row

The March CPI report released yesterday showed that for the second month in a row, grocery inflation — labeled in the report as “food at home” — remained at zero. Yet, Fox Business segments discussed grocery prices as if they were contributing to the increased overall inflation rate.

On Kudlow, Fox Business reporter Edward Lawrence said that “food and energy prices [are] driving some of this increase of the overall inflation.” And Fox anchor Maria Bartiromo said on Mornings with Maria Bartiromo that “food prices really continue to be a problem” with inflation, citing higher prices of frozen juice even as an on-screen graphic showed price declines in several food items over the past year.