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"Jeff Helms, Publications Director"
334 613-4212

MONTGOMERY As Alabama families gather for the holidays, they can expect to pay less for a traditional Christmas ham this year despite a slight increase in their total food bill since November.

According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the average price of a whole, bone-in ham was $1.38 a pound in December, compared to $1.48 last year. Overall, the price of 20 basic market basket items averaged $36.04 at Alabama supermarkets, up 1.3 percent from last month.

Seasonal increases in produce prices helped to drive the food bill higher as cold weather decreased the availability of local vegetables. Tomatoes led the 5.9 percent jump in produce prices at $1.24 a pound, up 18 cents a pound from November. Lettuce also edged a nickel higher at 98 cents a head.

At the meat counter, pork prices rebounded this month after falling almost 4 percent last month. Bacon saw the biggest increase at $2.48 a pound, up 17 cents from November, and Boston butts were a dime higher at $1.40 per pound. Beef and poultry prices were almost unchanged with T-bone steak selling for $6.08 a pound and chicken breast selling for $1.78 a pound, both down 6 cents from a month ago.

Meanwhile, holiday shoppers will find savings on Santa's milk and cookies this year as dairy prices fell 2.3 percent from November. The average price of a half gallon of milk was $1.79, down three cents from last month, and a half gallon of ice cream was $2.72, down 10 cents. The price of butter eased 3 cents a pound higher in December compared to last month, but was 64 cents a pound less than a year ago. Eggs were 4 cents higher at 80 cents a dozen.

Regional reports collected from around the state Nov. 29 through Dec. 3 showed the December market basket total averaged $35.14 in northwest Alabama, $35.81 in central Alabama, $35.85 in south Alabama, and $36.79 in northeast Alabama.

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