COLDER WEATHER BRINGS INCREASE IN FOOD PRICES
"MONTGOMERY, Ala." Seasonal price increases for produce and dairy products helped push Alabama food prices 2.2 percent higher in October, according to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey. The average price of 20 basic market basket items was $39.21, up 86 cents from September and up $2.78 from a year ago.
Tomato prices jumped 20 cents this month to $1.21 a pound as cooler weather slowed production. Red potatoes averaged 67 cents a pound, up 8 cents, while sweet potatoes were down 4 cents to 73 cents a pound. After a 10-cent increase in last month, lettuce prices leveled off in October, ringing in at $1.09 a head.
In the dairy case, a half-gallon of ice cream averaged $2.88, up 15 cents, while cottage cheese was 14 cents higher at $1.95 a pound. Milk was only slightly higher at $1.87 a half-gallon, up 3 cents, and butter was a penny cheaper at $3.27 a pound.
At the butcher's counter, pork prices saw little change as savings on bacon were offset by higher prices for roasts. Bacon averaged $2.95 a pound, down 7 cents, while Boston butts were a dime higher at $1.54 a pound. Beef prices rebounded in October with ground beef selling for $1.60 a pound, up a nickel. Chuck roasts also were higher at $2.33 a pound, up 14 cents. T-bone steaks held firm at $6.16 a pound. Meanwhile, poultry prices were basically unchanged. Fryers were 91 cents a pound and chicken breasts were $1.77 a pound, both down a penny. Eggs were a good deal this month at 82 cents a dozen, down 3 cents.
Heading into winter, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted food prices would continue to ease higher throughout 2002 resulting in an overall increase of 2.5-3 percent. Processed fruits and vegetables were likely to see the biggest increases while pork and seafood prices were expected to change only slightly.
Regional reports collected at supermarkets around the state Oct. 1-8 showed the market basket averaged $37.49 in northwest Alabama, $37.71 in the central counties, $39.97 in south Alabama and $40.67 the northeast corner of the state.