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August 17, 2004   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
August 17, 2004

MONTGOMERY, Ala.-- The easing of dairy prices from record highs posted earlier this year contributed to an overall drop in Alabama food prices this month, according to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey. Reports collected by volunteer shoppers throughout the state Aug. 1-9 showed the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $44.73 in August, down four-tenths of a percent or 16 cents from July.

Milk processors began lowering the prices they charge retailers for milk last month after the federal government reduced the price farmers are paid for milk. Although tight supplies will continue to keep retail prices for dairy products well above 2003 levels, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts shoppers will see a gradual decline in prices in the coming months. In Alabama, a half-gallon of milk averaged $2.15 in August, down 6 cents from July, while a half-gallon of ice cream was a penny lower at $3.08. Butter also was less expensive this month at $3.43 a pound, down 13 cents.

At the meat counter, the average price of pork products dropped 2.9 percent in August as pork chops fell to $3.07 a pound, down 32 cents. Bacon was 8 cents a pound cheaper at $3.29 a pound, but Boston butts were up 14 cents to $1.72 a pound. Meanwhile, beef prices retreated seven-tenths of a percent after a 3 percent jump last month. T-bone steaks were the best buy at $8.35 a pound, down 9 cents, while ground beef was down 4 cents to $1.95 a pound.

Poultry prices were mixed in August with whole fryers averaging 96 cents a pound, down 6 cents, while chicken breasts were up 11 cents to $2.18 a pound. Egg prices also were slightly higher at $1.03 a dozen, up 4 cents.

On the produce aisle, higher prices for lettuce and tomatoes resulted in an overall increase of 7.6 percent for fruits and vegetables. Lettuce averaged $1.15 a head, up 11 cents, while tomatoes were 10 cents higher at $1.31 a pound. The price of red potatoes also increased 2 cents, to 60 cents a pound, while sweet potatoes averaged 89 cents a pound, up 4 cents.

Regional reports collected around the state showed the market basket averaged $42.36 in the northwest corner of the state, $44.47 in northeast Alabama, $45.29 in the central counties and $46.98 in south Alabama.

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