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July 18, 2001   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
July 18, 2001

"MONTGOMERY, Ala." Seasonal savings on produce helped push monthly food prices lower for the first time since February, according to the Alabama Farmers Federation's food price survey. Reports collected from around the state the week of July 1-8 showed the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $38.52, down 18 cents or five-tenths of 1 percent from last month, but up $1.88 from a year ago.

Produce prices were down 9.4 percent with fresh tomatoes ringing in at $1.16 a pound, down 31 cents. Lettuce also was 7 cents cheaper at 93 cents a head, and red potatoes were 63 cents a pound, down 3 cents. Morgan County farmer Mike Reeves, who serves as chairman of the Federation's State Horticulture Committee, said favorable weather has yielded an abundant supply of Alabama-grown fruits and vegetables.

"Adequate to plentiful rain has resulted in a good crop year with a lot of produce available," Reeves said. "It also is the time of year when a lot of gardeners are using vegetables from their own gardens, resulting in extra supply."

In addition to savings on produce, shoppers enjoyed bargains on poultry this month as prices retreated 4.8 percent. Chicken breasts were down 9 cents at $1.52 a pound, while fryers were 2 cents lower at 87 cents a pound. Surging pork prices also took a break in July, edging 2.5 percent lower. Bacon was the best buy at $2.69 a pound, down 17 cents, while Boston butts were a nickel cheaper at $1.50 a pound. Meanwhile, beef prices were 1.4 percent higher with T-bone steaks selling for $6.82 a pound, up 21 cents.

In the dairy case, prices were up for the third month in a row as higher prices for milk and butter more than offset savings on ice cream. A half-gallon of milk averaged $1.79 in July, up 11 cents, and a pound of butter was $3.26, up 16 cents. Ice cream was 11 cents cheaper at $2.79 a half-gallon. Eggs also were slightly less expensive at 79 cents a dozen, down 2 cents.

Regional reports collected at supermarkets around the state show the market basket averaged $37.79 in northwest Alabama, $38.32 in the central counties, $38.92 in the northeast corner of the state and $39.09 in south Alabama.

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