ALABAMA FOOD PRICES DECLINE 3 PERCENT IN DECEMBER
"Montgomery, Ala." Savings on beef and dairy products triggered a 3 percent drop in food prices this month as shoppers enjoyed the largest monthly decline in their average grocery bills in more than a year. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the cost of 20 basic market basket items was $37.41 in December, down $1.14 from last month but still 11 cents higher than a year ago.
Bargains at the meat counter signaled that beef supplies may finally be catching up to increased demand as the average price of T-bone steaks fell 51 cents to $5.78 a pound. Chuck roasts also were less expensive at $2.25 a pound, down 19 cents. Average pork prices, however, were unchanged as slim savings on bacon and Boston butts were offset by higher prices for pork chops.
In the dairy case, holiday bakers took advantage of savings on milk and butter as prices fell 3.3 percent. Butter was a best buy at $2.73 a pound, down 27 cents, while milk was only slightly cheaper at $1.85 a half-gallon, down 2 cents. Ice cream also offered an attractive alternative for Christmas dessert menus this month as a half-gallon of the cool treat averaged $2.88, down 16 cents.
On the produce aisle, seasonal savings on sweet and Irish potatoes helped drive prices 6.8 percent lower. Sweet potatoes averaged 60 cents a pound, down 7 cents, while red potatoes were 55 cents a pound, down 4 cents. Salad lovers also could find bargains this month as the average price of lettuce fell 11 cents to 89 cents a head.
Meanwhile, poultry prices rebounded in December following a two-month decline. Whole fryers averaged 92 cents a pound, up 8 cents, while chicken breasts were unchanged at $1.81 a pound. Eggs were 3 cents cheaper at 82 cents a dozen.
Regional reports collected at supermarkets around the state Dec. 1-7 showed the market basket averaged $36.59 in central Alabama, $37.02 in northwest Alabama, $37.86 in the northeast corner of the state, and $37.89 in south Alabama.