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March 18, 2004   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
March 18, 2004

The popularity of high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets has increased demand of pork chops as well as other meats and eggs. Photo courtesy of The National Pork Board. Visit www.otherwhitemeat.com for delicious pork recipes like Plantation-Style Grilled Pork Chops, above.
MONTGOMERY, Ala.-- Retail beef and egg prices, both of which hit record-high levels in recent months, were down at Alabama supermarkets in March helping to offset higher prices for pork, poultry and dairy products. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $41.80 in March, down 2 cents or one-tenth of a percent from last month, but up $3.89 from a year ago.

Although beef prices were down an average of 19 cents a pound this month, Alabama shoppers still paid an average of 57 cents more per pound for steaks, roasts and ground beef than a year ago. Brian Hardin, director of the Federation's pork division, said this long-term rise in beef prices has increased consumers' willingness to spend more for pork products.

"Higher prices for beef and poultry make pork products more attractive to U.S. consumers. In addition, the increased popularity of high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets has stimulated demand for meat and eggs," Hardin said. "When consumer demand increases faster than the supply, retail prices rise."

The Federation's March food price survey showed pork prices were up 3.6 percent this month with pork chops averaging $3.44 a pound, up 38 cents. Beef prices fell 4.6 percent, with T-bone steaks averaging $7.44 a pound, down 33 cents. Ground beef also was lower at $1.62 a pound, down 24 cents, while chuck roasts were unchanged at $2.89 a pound.

Meanwhile, poultry prices jumped 11.6 percent, due largely to a 32-cent-per-pound increase for chicken breasts--which averaged $2.12 a pound. Whole fryers remained a good buy at 95 cents a pound, down a penny, while egg prices retreated 14 cents to $1.34 a dozen.

On the produce aisle, tomatoes were 7 cents cheaper at $1.42 a pound, and red potatoes were a good buy at 60 cents a pound, down 8 cents. Lettuce prices, however, climbed 11 cents in March to $1.24 a head.

In the dairy case, shoppers paid more for ice cream, which averaged $2.77 a half-gallon, up 9 cents, and butter was up 28 cents to $2.71 a pound. Milk prices were basically unchanged at $1.84 a half-gallon, up a penny.

Regional reports collected throughout the state March 1-7 showed the market basket averaged $38.84 in northwest Alabama, $41.85 in the central counties, $42.80 in the northeast corner of the state and $43.49 in south Alabama.

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