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May 15, 2002   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
May 15, 2002

"MONTGOMERY, Ala." Savings on pork and lower prices for beef and produce pushed Alabama food prices 4.5 percent lower in May, according to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey. Reports filed May 1-7 by volunteer shoppers throughout the state showed the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $37.81, down $1.79 from April and down 37 cents from a year ago.

Harvest of the spring lettuce crop in California and Arizona--which ended one of the worst lettuce shortages in history--had a major impact on shoppers' total food bills this month. Lettuce prices were near normal for the first time in two months at 94 cents a head, down $1.55 from April. Prices for other produce, however, changed little in May with tomatoes averaging $1.34 a pound, up a nickel, while red potatoes were unchanged at 64 cents a pound.

Lower hog prices finally trickled down to consumers this month as pork prices fell 3 percent. Pork chops were the best buy at $2.77 a pound, down 16 cents, and bacon was 8 cents cheaper at $2.72 a pound. Meanwhile, beef prices retreated 4.9 percent following back-to-back increases in March and April. T-bone steaks averaged $6.10 a pound, down 38 cents, and ground beef was a bargain at $1.50 a pound, down 13 cents.

Poultry prices, however, were up 5.7 percent after falling sharply in April. Higher prices for chicken breasts accounted for much of the increase with the more expensive cuts averaging $1.72 a pound, up 13 cents. But shoppers still could save money on whole fryers, which scanned in at 89 cents a pound, up 2 cents. Eggs were 18 cents cheaper at 96 cents a dozen.

In the dairy case, shoppers saw moderate price increases for the second straight month. A half-gallon of milk was $1.87, up a nickel, and butter was 15 cents higher at $2.75 a pound. Ice cream was unchanged at $3.06 for a half-gallon.

Regional reports collected at supermarkets around the state showed the market basket averaged $36.04 in northwest Alabama, $37.63 in the central counties and $38.73 in both south Alabama and the northeast corner of the state.

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