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June 15, 2001   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
June 15, 2001

"MONTGOMERY, Ala." The cost of summer cookouts is likely to be higher this year for Alabama families as strong demand for beef and pork continues to push grocery bills higher. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $38.70 in June, up 1.4 percent from May and up 7.7 percent from last year.

Beef and pork prices were up for the third time in the past four months with T-bone steaks ringing in at $6.61 a pound, up 11 cents. Chuck roasts also were higher at $2.40 a pound, up 7 cents, while ground beef was basically unchanged at $1.60 a pound. Pork prices were up 1.3 percent due mainly to a 7-cent-per-pound increase in the price of Boston butts.

Brian Hardin, director of the Federation's pork division, said demand for pork has increased 1.2 percent since January, resulting in a 4.5 percent increase in retail prices.

"This shows that the producer-funded pork promotions, which have been in place for 15 years, are helping to increase demand," Hardin said. "Thanks to these programs, shoppers are discovering that today's pork not only is versatile, but it also is 31 percent lower in fat, 14 percent lower in calories and 10 percent lower in cholesterol than 18 years ago."

While increased demand is good news for pork farmers, bargain hunters also have reason to celebrate. This month, poultry prices fell 12 percent with chicken breast selling for $1.61 a pound, down 33 cents. Eggs also were cheaper at 81 cents a dozen, down 2 cents.

On the produce aisle, prices were up as shoppers continued to wait for abundant Alabama-grown tomatoes to arrive this month. Overall, fruits and vegetables were 7.9 percent higher with tomatoes averaging $1.47 a pound, up 38 cents. Red potatoes were 8 cents higher at 66 cents a pound, while lettuce was 26 cents cheaper at $1 a head. Dairy prices were up for the second month in a row with butter selling for $3.10 a pound, up 31 cents. But, milk was slightly less expensive at $1.68 cents for a half-gallon, down 4 cents.

Regional reports collected from around the state June 1-7 show the market basket averaged $37.57 in northwest Alabama, $38.53 in the central counties, $39.08 in the northeast corner of the state and $39.66 in south Alabama.

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