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October 18, 2002   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
October 18, 2002

"MONTGOMERY, Ala." Rebounding pork and dairy prices, along with seasonal increases for produce, pushed Alabama food prices 1.9 percent higher in October, according to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey. Reports collected by volunteer shoppers around the state Oct. 1-8 show the cost of 20 basic market basket items averaged $37.94, up 70 cents from September but down 8 cents from a year ago.

Federation Pork Director Brian Hardin said the 4.3 percent increase in retail pork prices is consistent with industry reports that show hog prices bottomed out for the year in August.

"Usually the fourth quarter is when we see our lowest prices for the year, but this year some farmers wisely marketed their hogs early to avoid oversupply later in the year," Hardin said. "We also are beginning to see prices recover from steep declines that occurred earlier in the year when reduced exports of poultry caused increased price competition here at home."

The biggest price increase this month was for bacon, which averaged $2.85 a pound, up 22 cents. Pork chops also were higher at $3.01, up 9 cents, while Boston butts were slightly cheaper at $1.34 a pound. Shoppers could, however, find bargains at the meat counter this month as T-bone steaks fell 4 cents to $5.95 a pound. Ground beef was down 6 cents to $1.46 a pound, and chuck roasts were off 2 cents at $2.48 a pound. Poultry prices were mixed in October with whole fryers ringing it at 87 cents a pound, 4 cents less than last month. Chicken breasts, meanwhile, were up 7 cents to $1.72 a pound. Eggs were up 4 cents to 86 cents a dozen.

On the produce aisle, a seasonal increase for tomatoes pushed prices 3.4 percent higher. Tomatoes averaged $1.21 a pound, up 17 cents, while lettuce was a penny higher at $1.06 a head. Everyone's autumn favorites, sweet potatoes, were a good buy this month at 67 cents a pound, down 4 cents. Shoppers who like their sweet potato pie a` la mode, however, could be disappointed as dairy prices continued to rebound from summertime lows. A half-gallon of ice cream averaged $3.12, up 22 cents, while a half-gallon of milk was a nickel higher at $1.82.

Regional reports collected across the state showed that the market basket averaged $35.87 in northwest Alabama, $37.80 in south Alabama, $38.14 in the northeast corner of the state and $40.54 in the central counties.

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