Skip to main content

Survey: Shoppers blame government action, manufacturers for high food prices

Zach Russell headshot
Grocery shopping
The survey results come as consumers are still hyper-focused on their pocketbooks.

Consumers blame their elected officials the most for high prices at the grocery store, according to a new survey.

In a survey of 1,150 consumers conducted by The Feedback Group, respondents were asked to attribute responsibility for increased food and grocery prices on a five-point scale where five is "highly responsible" and one is "not at all responsible.” Government policies and actions received the highest mean score (3.86), followed by product manufacturers and suppliers as the second most responsible (3.75).

Behind those two were wars and worldwide political conflicts (3.42), supermarket retailers (3.40) and labor supply shortages (3.23). Factors viewed as least responsible were climate change factors (2.85) and farmers and growers (2.78).

The survey results come as consumers are still hyper-focused on their pocketbooks. According to Numerator, more than a third of Americans cited personal finances as their primary worry last year, despite resilient consumer spending.

"In this politically charged environment, supermarket shoppers believe that government policies are the leading influence on higher supermarket prices,” said Doug Madenberg, chief listening officer at The Feedback Group. “Product manufacturers and suppliers follow closely behind, while supermarkets are viewed as further down the list, along with other factors. More holistically, what emerges is a picture of multiple factors that the average consumer navigates, all contributing in various degrees to the price tag they face at the checkout."

The Feedback Group asked shoppers from the money spent at their primary store, how much they think is left for profit after the store pays all expenses and taxes. On average, shoppers indicated they believe their primary store has a net profit of 31%, a slight decrease from the results the last two years of 35% (2023) and 33% (2022). According to FMI – The Food Industry Association, the average net profit for a supermarket has been close to 1% historically, peaking as high as 3% in 2020.

Shoppers were also asked to rate if their primary supermarket is on their side when it comes to inflation, in addition to rating if their store is good at communicating why product prices have risen in the past few years. In both cases, on a five-point agreement scale, shoppers gave supermarkets relatively low scores of 3.23 and 3.01, respectively.

"Clearly shoppers believe supermarkets could do more in terms of supporting them when it comes to fighting inflation, as well as communicating why product prices have increased,” said Brian Numainville, principal at The Feedback Group. “This is especially important in light of the inaccurate profit perception we continue to find in our research.”

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds