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June 17, 2003   Email to Friend 

CONSUMER DEMAND FOR BEEF, PORK PUSHES FOOD PRICES HIGHER
Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
June 17, 2003

T-bone steaks were a big-ticket item in June as average prices increased 51 cents to $6.98 a pound. (Photo courtesy National Cattlemen's Beef Association)
MONTGOMERY, Ala.-- Increased consumer demand for beef and pork helped push Alabama food prices 1.6 percent higher in June, according to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey. Reports collected from around the state June 1-7 showed the cost of 20 basic market basket items was $39.33 this month, up 61 cents from May and up $2.31 from a year ago.

At the meat counter, beef prices jumped 6.6 percent, and pork prices were 4.5 percent higher. T-bone steaks were a big-ticket item in June as average prices increased 51 cents to $6.98 a pound. Chuck roasts also were more expensive at $2.66 a pound, up 22 cents, while ground beef remained a good buy at $1.53 a pound, down a nickel. Shoppers gearing up for summertime cookouts can expect to pay more for pork as well. Across the state, pork chops averaged $3.02 a pound, up 6 cents; Boston butts were up 9 cents to $1.40 a pound; and bacon was 20 cents higher at $3.11 a pound.

Brian Hardin, director of the Federation's pork division, said increased demand, strong exports and tighter supplies have contributed to higher prices for beef and pork.

"The number of hogs moving through the packing facilities is fewer than we've seen in quite a while," Hardin said. "In addition, we generally see an increase in demand during the grilling season. As a result, pork producers are beginning to see their prices rebound after several months of disappointing returns."

Meanwhile, shoppers looking to save money on meat this month were pleased to find that poultry prices were down for the second month in a row. On average, chicken breasts were $1.61 a pound, down 4 cents, while whole fryers were unchanged at 90 cents a pound. Eggs also were a penny cheaper this month at 95 cents a dozen.

On the produce aisle, prices were mixed with tomatoes weighing in at $1.19 a pound, down 11 cents, while a head of lettuce was up 3 cents to $1.04. Red potatoes were a nickel higher at 73 cents a pound.

Dairy prices, meanwhile, fell sharply following a 3 percent increase in May. A half-gallon of ice cream was the best buy at $3.02, down 15 cents, while butter was 13 cents cheaper at $2.32 a pound. Milk prices edged 2 cents higher to $1.80 a half-gallon.

Regional reports collected by volunteer shoppers around the state showed the market basket averaged $36.26 in northwest Alabama, $38.32 in the central counties, $40.16 in the northeast corner of the state and $41.76 in south Alabama.


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