ALABAMA FOOD PRICES UP 3.3 PERCENT IN JULY
MONTGOMERY, Ala. Alabama food prices increased 3.3 percent in July after falling sharply last month as strong demand for meat and dairy products continue to push grocery bills higher. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $44.89 this month, up $1.43 from June and up $4.99 from a year ago.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (ERS) reported this month that the "tightest supply/demand situation this year is already past" for beef, which should bring some relief to consumer prices in the coming months. However, the ERS analysis predicted dairy supplies would remain low through the remainder of 2004, and pork prices are expected to be well above the 2003 levels.
At Alabama supermarkets, pork prices were up 9 percent in July with pork chops averaging $3.39 a pound, up 37 cents. Bacon also was higher at $3.37 a pound, up 32 cents, and Boston butts were up 2 cents to $1.58 a pound. Meanwhile, beef prices were up 3 percent with T-bone steaks averaging $8.44, up a dime, while ground beef was $1.99 a pound, up 8 cents.
Poultry prices were mixed with whole fryers selling for $1.02 a pound, up 14 cents, while chicken breasts were a penny cheaper at $2.07 a pound. Eggs prices, however, seem to have stabilized after hitting almost $1.50 a dozen earlier this year. This month, a dozen eggs averaged 99 cents, up 2 cents from June and just 4 cents higher than a year ago.
In the dairy case, retail prices continued to climb with a half-gallon of milk ringing in at $2.21, up a nickel. A half-gallon of ice cream also was more expensive at $3.09, up 7 cents, and butter was 14 cents more expensive at $3.56 a pound.
On the produce aisle, seasonal savings on tomatoes contributed to an overall savings of 10 percent, when compared to June. Tomatoes averaged $1.21 a pound, down 20 cents, and red potatoes were 11 cents cheaper at 58 cents a pound. Lettuce also was a good buy at $1.04 a head, down 6 cents, and sweet potatoes were a penny cheaper at 85 cents a pound. Shoppers also found favorable prices for Alabama-grown peaches as farmers reported they would harvest 31 million pounds of the tasty fruit--the state's largest crop since 1965.
Regional reports collected by volunteer shoppers around the state July 1-8 showed the market basket averaged $42.23 in the northwest corner of the state, $44.79 in the central counties, $45.15 in northeast Alabama and $47.41 in south Alabama.