SHOPPERS ENJOY LOWER FOOD PRICES IN JUNE
MONTGOMERY, Ala. Savings on meat, poultry and produce more than offset higher prices for dairy products in June as Alabama grocery bills dropped 3.5 percent from last month. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $43.46 in June, down $1.56 from May but up $4.13 from a year ago.
Despite recent increases in prices, Dr. Bob Taylor, Alfa's eminent scholar and professor of agricultural economics at Auburn University, said food prices are still relatively low, when adjusted for inflation. For instance, he noted that when eggs topped $1.20 a dozen earlier this year, that price was still 36 percent below the 1979 price (in today's dollars).
"You've got to adjust for inflation when you look at prices," said Taylor. "Generally, the inflation-adjusted price has trended downward over the last several decades."
There was even more good news for shoppers this month as prices dropped in all major food categories except dairy products.
At the meat case, pork prices fell 3.4 percent; beef was 3 percent lower; and poultry products were down 8.1 percent. Pork chops were a good buy at $3.02 a pound, down a quarter from May, while Boston butts were 4 cents cheaper at $1.56 a pound. Bacon, however, was slightly more expensive at $3.05 a pound, up 2 cents.
Beef bargains included chuck roasts, which were down 28 cents to $2.81 a pound. Ground beef also was down 8 cents to $1.91 a pound, and T-bone steaks averaged $8.34 a pound, down 4 cents. Meanwhile, chicken breasts dropped 13 cents a pound to $2.08, and whole fryers were down 12 cents to 88 cents a pound. Increased production also brought relief to egg prices as a dozen eggs averaged 97 cents, down 18 cents from May.
On the produce aisle, seasonal declines in tomato prices led a 4 percent drop in the cost of fruit and vegetables. Across the state, tomatoes averaged $1.41 a pound, down 25 cents from last month, and red potatoes were 3 cents cheaper at 69 cents a pound. Lettuce prices, however, edged higher to $1.10 a head, up 6 cents.
In the dairy case, lower supplies, decreased production and increased demand for milk by cheese manufacturers pushed prices higher for the third time in the last four months. A half-gallon of milk averaged $2.16, up 12 cents, and a half-gallon of ice cream increased 2 cents to $3.02. Butter was slightly less expensive at $3.42 a pound, down 2 cents.
Regional reports collected around the state June 1-7 showed the market basket averaged $40.95 in the northwest corner of the state, $43.56 in northeast Alabama, $43.79 in the central counties and $45.56 in south Alabama.