Groceries much more expensive in small towns

Shopping in Mohall, N.D. population 783. (photo courtesy NDSU)

It costs more to eat in small towns. The North Dakota State University Extension Service has compiled an interesting comparison of food prices across the state.

Consumers living in oil boom country, in western N.D.,  pay 3.3 percent more for groceries. But location seems to create more disparity than the oil boom economy.

People living in communities with a population less than 10,000 pay on average 5.7 percent more for food than those living in larger communities, according to the NDSU survey.

The same bag of groceries costs 21 percent less in national chain stores than it does in small supermarkets and local grocery stores.

The price for a gallon of milk ranged from $3.09 to $6.89.

Of course, as a NDSU Extension family economics specialist points out, price isn’t the only thing people consider when shopping. “Consumers living in rural areas and the small communities may consider convenience and loyalty to a business, plus travel cost and time.”

Extension agents around North Dakota started collecting grocery price data last fall to track food price trends in rural and urban areas and they’ll continue tracking prices for the rest of the year.