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July 16, 2003   Email to Friend 

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

MONTGOMERY, Ala.-- Alabama food prices increased for the second straight month in July as the cost of 20 basic market basket items climbed 1.5 percent. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the average cost of the market basket was $39.90 this month, up 57 cents from June and up $2.39 from a year ago.

Higher prices for meat and poultry continued to account for much of the overall increase. Economists who track meat and poultry supplies for the U.S. Department of Agriculture attribute much of the price increase to strong domestic demand, increased exports and decreased supplies. The Economic Research Service reported that poultry production was down four of the past five months, when compared to last year. "With broiler production forecast to be below year-earlier levels through the third quarter and smaller supplies of beef and pork available, broiler prices are expected to continue to gradually strengthen," said the USDA report.

At Alabama supermarkets, poultry prices were up 4 percent in July with chicken breasts averaging $1.70 a pound, up 9 cents. Fryers were a penny higher at 91 cents a pound. Meanwhile, pork prices were up eight-tenths of a percent with bacon averaging $3.26 a pound, up 15 cents. Pork chops also were higher at $3.14 a pound, up 12 cents, but Boston butts were a good buy at $1.27 a pound, down 22 cents. Beef prices stabilized in July after posting a 6.6 percent increase last month. T-bone steaks averaged $7.01 a pound, up 3 cents; ground beef was a penny cheaper at $1.52 a pound; and chuck roasts were down 6 cents at $2.60 a pound.

On the produce aisle, tomato prices rebounded after falling in June. Across the state, the summertime favorite averaged $1.42 a pound, up 23 cents, and lettuce was 30 cents higher at $1.34 a head. Sweet potatoes also were more expensive at 89 cents a pound, up 13 cents.

In the dairy case, milk was down 11 cents to $1.69 a half-gallon, but ice cream was a nickel higher at $3.07 a half-gallon. Butter was a penny higher at $2.33 a pound, and the price of eggs was unchanged at 95 cents a dozen.

Regional reports collected by volunteer shoppers around the state July 1-10 showed the market basket averaged $37.92 in central Alabama, $38.66 in the northwest corner of the state, $40.23 in northeast Alabama, and $42.73 in the southern counties.

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