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May 16, 2003   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
May 16, 2003

MONTGOMERY, Ala.-- Higher prices for meats and dairy products pushed shoppers' total food bills 1.1 percent higher this month, according to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey. Reports collected around the state May 1-7 showed the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $38.72, up 40 cents from April and up 91 cents from a year ago.

Pork prices were up for the third straight month due to strong domestic demand and expanding export markets. At Alabama supermarkets, Boston butts averaged $1.40 a pound, up 7 cents from April, and pork chops were up 3 cents to $2.96 a pound. Beef prices climbed 1 percent for the second month in a row with T-bone steaks averaging $6.47 a pound, up 13 cents. Cost-conscious shoppers, however, could find bargains on meat this month as ground beef remained unchanged at $1.58 a pound and poultry prices fell 2 percent. Statewide, whole fryers averaged 90 cents a pound, down 3 cents, and chicken breasts scanned in at $1.65 a pound, also down 3 cents. Eggs were a penny cheaper in May at 96 cents a dozen.

On the produce aisle, tomato prices retreated after a 10-cent-per-pound spike in April. The summertime favorite averaged $1.30 a pound, down 11 cents, while lettuce was 3 cents higher at $1.01 a head. Red potatoes were basically unchanged at 68 cents a pound, and sweet potatoes were up 3 cents to 75 cents a pound.

In the dairy case, prices were up 3 percent due mostly to sharp increases for ice cream and butter. According to the survey, a half-gallon of ice cream was up a dime to $3.17 while butter was up 9 cents to $2.45 a pound. A half-gallon of milk averaged $1.78, up 2 cents.

Regional reports collected by volunteer shoppers around the state showed the market basket averaged $36.61 in northwest Alabama, $37.95 in the central counties, $39.47 in the northeast corner of the state and $40.79 in south Alabama.

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