FOOD PRICES EDGE HIGHER DESPITE SAVINGS ON BEEF
"Montgomery, Ala." Retail beef prices were at their lowest level since December this month, but those savings weren't enough to keep Alabama's average food bill from edging slightly higher. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $38.66 in August, up four-tenths of 1 percent from last month's total of $38.52 and up $1.76 from the same period last year.
Beef prices fell 7.5 percent with T-bone steaks selling for $6.21 a pound, down 61 cents, while chuck roasts were 23 cents cheaper at $2.13 a pound. USDA experts credited seasonal marketing trends for the decrease, but warned that prices would likely remain higher than 2000 levels due to strong consumer demand and low beef cattle inventories.
Meanwhile, higher beef prices and surging exports also are bolstering pork and poultry prices. This month, pork was 8 percent higher with pork chops ringing in at $3.10 a pound, up 17 cents. Bacon was 34 cents higher at $3.03 a pound, and Boston butts were up a nickel at $1.55 a pound. Poultry prices increased 8.4 percent due mainly to a 16-cent-per-pound increase in the price of chicken breasts.
In the dairy case, prices were up for the fourth month in a row. A half-gallon of milk averaged $1.84, up a nickel, and ice cream was 22 cents higher at $3.01 for a half-gallon. Eggs also were higher at 87 cents a dozen, up 8 cents. August shoppers could still find bargains on the produce aisle, however, as tomato prices fell to $1.01 a pound, down 15 cents. Those savings were offset by higher prices for lettuce, which was $1.08 a head, up 15 cents.
Regional reports collected at supermarkets around the state Aug. 1-9 showed the market basket averaged $37.69 in northwest Alabama, $38.68 in the central counties, $38.89 in the northeast corner of the state and $39.28 in south Alabama.