Food has increased 25%, but here's how the co-op is slowing the process!

Food has increased 25%, but here's how the co-op is slowing the process!

Hello Friends! 

This is Cassie, the Founder of the Food and Meat Co-op. We are coming up on our 4 year birthday. The co-op was born on May 22, 2020 out of necessity to help families in Utah gain access to food during the pandemic. And not only gain access, but make it more affordable.

Although I started this to solve an immediate problem in my local community four years ago, the lightbulb went on for more communities across Utah, then Idaho and then Wyoming. Even more, communities are still banding together to get enough of a local co-op community built to be able to bring the co-op to their areas.

Today, the Food and Meat Co-op is all across Utah, all across Southern Idaho from the Greater Boise area to South East Idaho and in Wyoming from Evanston to Rock Springs.

We have been a beacon of food hope and light for 4 years. Making better meats and frozen foods more accessible and not only improving lifestyles all over, but being a beacon of stability and blessing to food producers locally, regionally and across the nation.

Well, four years in, I love still waking up everyday as the founder with my heart full from all of the encouraging messages and THANK YOU’s for doing this is what keeps me going day after day. YOU ALL are MY MOTIVATION.

But there is something very important that we all need to be aware of, driving us all to rally behind and support this community as a motivated participant in this amazing passion project….

Rapid Food Inflation.

I follow the food news, markets, recalls and potential happenings in the food world that could impact our community.

We’ve dealt with a lot and even gracefully with a rapidly changing food world the past four years, solving issues to make and keep food accessible and affordable.

So while I share some bad news first, keep reading for good news 👇

How much has it increased?

The issue of rapid food inflation is honestly a biggie. According to the Economic Research Service of the *USDA, food has risen by 25% since 2019.

As quoted from this news article, “Researchers found that families are paying 25 percent more for groceries now than they were before the pandemic, outpacing overall inflation.

They also found that five categories of groceries deserve a lot of the blame, noting that beef and veal, poultry, fresh produce, non-carbonated juices and drinks, and snacks drove nearly 30 percent of grocery inflation.”

The “bold” items are what we specialize in. There is an impact.

What causes the increase?

According to my research and many sources, it’s a combination of labor cost increases (which affects food on many levels), decline in beef supply (we have record low cattle right now = low supply while still having a high demand) while the cost to raise cattle has increased (similar reasons for poultry and pork), and weather (droughts and other natural disasters) and animal diseases.

Yes, all of this will lead to increases.

I have been in the wholesale food world for about 15 years now.  The issues of droughts and disease have always been issues and we have traditionally seen price hikes during droughts and animal diseases (supply and demand) and then regulates again. But in this case, I think we have a more permanent price hike from the significant labor cost increases.

Think about it, if we have had labor costs increases rapidly across all industries/fields, everytime a food product touches a hand, a larger than the past markup has to occur.

I really think the new cost of food is here to stay. At some point, it has to slow, but it’s not there yet.

However, this is why fighting back with your wallet is how to resist these changes so quickly.

Good News!!

How the Co-op is pushing back

This is why I LOVE what we are doing at the co-op! Love, love, love it!! We solved a problem during a pandemic, which shed light to a broken food supply chain system that paved a pathway for growth because even outside of a pandemic, families all over realized that THIS was THE SMART way to buy food.

As a co-op participant, you reap the benefits of wholesale food buying power by being one of many in your community that orders food in bulk, direct from the producers.

Collectively, we can have group buying power and like that of a small grocery store right now.  That means you get wholesale pricing in ANY market.

What have we seen in the wholesale pricing? Well, today, we are paying in wholesale what consumers were paying in retail just three years ago.

Basically, by purchasing wholesale with our group, you are setting the inflation clock back by three years. Slowing the rate at which you are paying for meats and frozen foods. We still see increases, but we are setting the clock back.

Our model allows for many levels of cost-cutting:

  1. Ordering direct from the producers by the truckload or pallets, minimizing the hands that touch it and have to mark it up and ordering enough to get better pricing (which gets better and better as we grow).
  2. Most of the food we offer is in non-retail packaging and in bulk. Retail packaging is an expensive part of grocery store sold foods. So we order without the fancy packages and in bulk bags/boxes to reduce costs. 
  3. We have no brick and mortar store. Real estate/rent is expensive and because we don’t have a physical store, we can cut that cost out for you.
  4. Small operation with creative operational tactics. There’s only a few admin team members to make this work on the digital side of the house to keep labor costs low. And then our pickup locations are operated by Site Leads and volunteers that all get free food in return, reducing your costs in labor as a participant, but still blessing those that make this operation happen pickup after pickup.
  5. Nurturing relationships. This is my main job. Sourcing and nurturing relationships with farmers and food producers, along with the other elements of refrigerated trucking and warehousing to store our food between distribution. All of which I manage creatively to make these pieces as affordable as possible.
  6. Grants. We have already obtained one grant from the Utah Department of Agriculture and Farming to pay for the Co-op Delivery van and our new website which allowed us to more affordably distribute food. We hope to continue applying and winning grants for our operational purposes to cut the cost there.

And in 2024, I hope to add another level of cost cutting - Collaborations and Sponsorships.

 My team and I will be looking for businesses and professionals that are willing to sponsor pickup events, giveaways and other events to help off set the cost to the community. In fact, if you know of anyone that may be willing to sponsor (affordable options there too!) a part of our operations, I would love to have you send them this form.

How you can be a part of the solution

  1. Participate! Choose to make some of your grocery buying choices each month through the Food and Meat Co-op. Especially in the area of meats! That’s our specialty. We also have frozen foods.
  2. Stock-up (with our without freezer space). When you purchase, know that you are stocking up and buying enough of an item to last you approximately three months. Many of the foods don’t require as much freezer space as you would think. Anything that is in 10 lb or less is little space needed. But we have also curated Assorted Boxes which provides a sampler as well as freezer space saving so you can get one a month and have your protein needs covered.
  3. Consider becoming a VIP. We have a VIP program that is only $39 per year. This gives you early ordering access when we have a product drop, an extra 5% off your food and more. But these fees help us operate too!
  4. Consider being a volunteer. The volunteers help keep this running smoothly and affordably. It’s 30-60 minutes of your time every 7 weeks, but the help is priceless to the community at large! Plus, you receive a $10 gift card each time you volunteer to help off set your family’s grocery budget.
  5. Spread the word! Share with your friends, family and neighbors. In fact, we have a *referral program now! So both of you can be rewarded! You get rewards for sharing, they get a reward for trying us out! *To do this, click on the gift icon on the left of the page and find your referral link! 

Ok, so as painfully as this article had to start with the reality of rapid food inflation, I believe that we as a community are on an excellent path to create our own food economy. I cannot express how much I appreciate you trusting me, my admin and operations teams, our onsite teams and our teams in other states.

I also love hearing from you - the good, but also the bad and ugly because I don’t know what needs to change if I haven’t been told. I want to be as accessible as the food we provide, so never hesitate reaching out to

 With much love, appreciation and joy,



* Everything we do is USDA certified as not only providing an amazing service is important to me, but also food safety and quality is too!


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.