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August 15, 2003   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
August 15, 2003

MONTGOMERY, Ala. Savings on produce and pork weren't enough to offset higher prices for beef, dairy and poultry products this month as Alabama food prices edged higher by three-tenths of 1 percent. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $40.02, up 12 cents from July, and up $2.57 from a year ago.

The biggest price changes this month were on the produce aisle, where the price of lettuce dropped 35 cents to 99 cents a head following a sharp spike in price last month. Tomatoes also were cheaper at $1.38 a pound, down 4 cents, while red potatoes were slightly more expensive at 75 cents a pound, up 3 cents.

At the meat case, bargain hunters stocked up on pork chops and bacon this month as pork prices fell for the first time since February. Pork chops averaged $3.03 a pound, down 11 cents, while bacon was 20 cents cheaper at $3.06 a pound. Boston butts, however, were up 6 cents to $1.33 a pound. Beef prices were mixed in August with T-bone steaks ringing in at $6.94 a pound, down 7 cents, while chuck roasts were 15 cents higher at $2.75 a pound. Ground beef also was more expensive at $1.59 a pound, up 7 cents.

Shoppers looking for a good buy on poultry this month opted for whole fryers instead of split breasts as the price of whole birds dropped 3 cents to 88 cents a pound. Chicken breasts, on the other hand, were up 11 cents to $1.81 a pound. Eggs also were higher at 99 cents a dozen, up 4 cents.

In the dairy case, prices were up this month, as the long, hot days of summer slowed milk production across the South. A half-gallon of milk averaged $1.83, up 14 cents, and butter scanned in at $2.51 a pound, up 18 cents. Relief from summer's heat could be found, however, as the average price of a half-gallon of ice cream fell 21 cents to $2.86--the lowest price of the year.

Regional reports collected by volunteer shoppers around the state Aug. 1-9 showed the market basket averaged $37.01 in northwest Alabama, $39.53 in the central counties, $40.98 in the northeast corner of the state and $41.42 in south Alabama.

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