FOOD PRICES EDGE HIGHER AS SHOPPERS SPEND MORE ON BEEF
MONTGOMERY Cash registers at Alabama supermarkets reflected a national increase in consumer spending for beef this month as food prices edged higher. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the cost of 20 basic market basket items averaged $36.90 for August, up 26 cents or seven-tenths of 1 percent from last month.
At the meat counter, beef prices were up for the second month in a row. Ground beef showed the biggest increase at $1.49 a pound, up 10 cents, while chuck roasts were 8 cents higher at $2.27 a pound. Cattle-Fax, a private market research firm, said higher retail prices for beef have come at a time when per capita meat consumption is on the rise. Cattle-Fax reported the average American ate 35.1 pounds of beef during the first half of 2000, up 2 percent from a year ago. Meanwhile, consumer spending for beef was a record $26.2 billion during the first six months of the year, up nearly $2 billion.
In Alabama grocery stores, pork prices remain relatively strong. For August, bacon was up 8 cents at $2.89 a pound, while pork chops were 4 cents lower at $2.88 a pound. Overall, pork prices were down eight-tenths of a percent. Shoppers reported a slight increase in poultry prices while eggs were unchanged at 78 cents a dozen.
On the produce aisle, higher prices for tomatoes and potatoes helped push the total fruit and vegetable bill 2.4 percent higher. Tomatoes were $1.04 a pound, up 4 cents, and red potatoes were 59 cents a pound, up 3 cents. The best buy for salad lovers this month was lettuce at 95 cents a head, down a nickel.
Average prices for dairy products held firm for August as a half gallon of milk sold for $1.76, and a half-gallon of ice cream was $2.75.
Regional reports collected from around the state July 31 -- Aug. 4 showed the market basket total averaged $35.76 in northwest Alabama, $36.02 in central Alabama, $37.82 in northeast Alabama, and $37.83 in south Alabama.