"PORK, POULTRY PRICES PUSH FOOD BILL HIGHER"
MONTGOMERY Food bills eased 1.8 percent higher for Alabama shoppers this month but were still 2.6 percent lower than a year ago.
The Alabama Farmers Federation's July food price survey shows the cost of 20 basic market basket items averaging $35.22 statewide, up 62 cents from last month and down 93 cents from last year.
Hot, dry weather pushed pork, poultry, egg and dairy prices higher in July as on-farm production suffered from feed shortages and reduced feed intake. An increase of 25 cents per pound for chops led a 4 percent jump in pork prices. Poultry prices were up 6.6 percent, triggered by an increase of 16 cents per pound for chicken breast.
Meanwhile, egg prices stabilized at 85 cents a dozen, after falling to 77 cents last month. In the dairy case, milk prices held firm, but higher ice cream, cottage cheese and butter prices edged up the cost of dairy products by 4.3 percent.
The drought that's curbing production on poultry and hog farms, however, may actually result in lower beef prices. Lack of hay and poor grazing conditions are forcing some farmers to liquidate or reduce their herds. In July, overall beef prices remained virtually unchanged, but shoppers found bargains on T-bone steak and ground beef. Both were about 10 cents per pound cheaper than in June.
Produce prices fell 6.1 percent in July after a 3.4-percent drop last month. The biggest savings was for tomatoes. With harvest in full swing, the vine-ripe summer favorite was 20 cents per pound less expensive than last month.
July food price survey results from around the state show the market basket averaged $33.38 in northwest Alabama, $35.16 in central Alabama, $36.02 in northeast Alabama, and $36.20 in south Alabama.