GROCERY PRICES START NEW YEAR LOWER
MONTGOMERY Savings on beef, pork and dairy products resulted in a lower total food bill for Alabama shoppers this month, according to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey. The survey, which was conducted Jan. 3-7, showed the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $35.22, down 2.3 percent from December.
Survey reports from supermarkets across the state showed pork prices retreated 7.2 percent this month after climbing 4.5 percent in December. Pork chops were the best buy at $2.66 a pound, down 17 cents. Bacon prices also dropped sharply, down 16 cents a pound to $2.32.
Beef prices fell 2.3 percent despite news that U.S. cattle prices hit a 2 1/2-year high earlier this month. Chuck roast averaged $1.95 a pound, down 9 cents, and T-bone steak was 8 cents cheaper at $6 a pound. Ground beef was 3 cents lower at $1.34 a pound.
At the dairy case, the downward trend continued as prices fell 3.8 percent for a total decline of 7.5 percent since last year. Butter averaged $2.24 a pound, down 16 cents, while the price of cottage cheese dropped 12 cents to $1.84 for a one-pound container. A half gallon of ice cream was a nickel cheaper at $2.67.
Meanwhile, seasonal declines in produce, poultry and egg production pushed prices higher this month. An 8-cent-per-pound increase in the price of sweet potatoes led a 3 percent rise in produce prices. Tomatoes were up a penny to $1.25 a pound, and lettuce was 3 cents higher at $1.01 a head. After holding steady in December, poultry prices jumped 5 percent in January as chicken breast increased to $1.91 a pound, up 13 cents. Eggs prices also were 5 percent higher at 85 cents a dozen.
Regional reports from around the state showed the January market basket total averaged $33.66 in northwest Alabama, $35.53 in central Alabama, $35.57 in south Alabama, and $36.03 in northeast