BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Grocery prices across the board–from meat to eggs–are soaring.

The question is not what has gone up, but what hasn’t. Eggs, beef, chicken, are seeing significant increases this past year.

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And the answer to most questions these days: COVID is the driving force.

“Everything is high. Nothing has gone down,” said Chris Jones of Baltimore.

“Chicken, pork,” added a woman named Mildred who lives in Baltimore.

“Boneless chicken breasts have gone up,” said Edward Brown of Baltimore.

Said Robin Price of Baltimore: “Don’t try to buy chicken wings.”

“Beef,” Jones added.

“From eggs, right up to soup,” Mildred said.

Those shoppers Friday outside the Howard Park Shop Rite have taken notice.

“Everything has increased. Except for the paychecks.” Price said.

Added Jones with a chuckle: “The only thing that hasn’t increased is Oodles and Noodles. That’s the only thing that’s stayed the same.”

Grocery prices everywhere are skyrocketing the past year. Meat, eggs and fish, particularly, are on the rise.

“They’ve changed a lot. They’re getting higher and higher,” Jones said.

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Prices are far outpacing paychecks and inflation.

“I used to buy aluminum foil for $12.99. It’s now $17.99. Bacon was $23. It’s now $27,” Price said.

Karyl Leggio, a finance professor in the Sellinger School of Business at Loyola University Maryland, agreed prices are rising.

“When I look at the cost of meat and poultry going up 4.4 percent last year, that’s a lot. That’s a big increase in one year,” she said.

Some products are not even getting to stores, Leggio said.

“Pretty much anything produced overseas. We’ve had a terrible time with supply chains,” she said.

The economy is pretty good in spite of COVID, and we’re not likely to go back to pre-pandemic grocery prices.

“The supply chain is broken by the fact factories are closed, certainly. It’s broken by the transportation issue. But, it’s also broken by the excess demand,” Leggio said.

Demand, Leggio said, is the biggest impact on increased prices. COVID has changed people’s behavior, and more people are cooking.

When asked when there might be relief, Leggio said with a laugh: “When will we see no more COVID?”

Shoppers at the Shop Rite said much the same thing.

“COVID is worldwide, so it’s affected everything,” Brown said.

Said Jones: “I would usually cook. Nope. Everybody’s gonna have to bring a dish now. I can’t afford it.”

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Leggio said it’s probably a good idea to get a jump on holiday shopping because the same challenges we’re seeing in grocery stores, we’re seeing across retail.

Paul Gessler