ALABAMA FOOD PRICES FALL FOR SECOND STRAIGHT MONTH
MONTGOMERY, Ala.-- Alabama food prices fell 2.4 percent in February as savings on pork, poultry and produce offset higher prices for beef and milk. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $43.65 this month, down $1.08 from January.
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At the meat counter, pork prices dropped 4 percent as retailers lowered prices to spur sales. Although demand for U.S. pork remains strong, Brian Hardin, director of the Federation's Pork Division, said record-high market hog weights have allowed current supplies to outpace the modest gains in demand. This "softening" of the hog market is good news for shoppers, who this month could purchase pork chops for $3.16 a pound, down 32 cents. Boston butts also were a good buy at $1.63 a pound, down 10 cents, but bacon was up a dime to $3.33 a pound.
Meanwhile, poultry prices fell 12.3 percent in February, due mostly to a 34-cent-per-pound drop in the price of chicken breasts. The premium chicken cut averaged $1.90 a pound at Alabama supermarkets while whole fryers were a nickel cheaper at 96 cents a pound. Eggs also remained a bargain at 96 cents a dozen, down a penny, but beef prices climbed 2.3 percent--despite savings on steaks. According to the survey, ground beef averaged $2.12 at Alabama supermarkets this month, up 11 cents, and chuck roasts were up 26 cents to $3.08 a pound. T-bone steaks were down 9 cents to $7.95 a pound.
On the produce aisle, tomato prices continued to fall from record levels, averaging just $1.17 a pound this month, down 58 cents from January. Lettuce also was less expensive at $1 a head, down 17 cents, but red potatoes were up 15 cents to 66 cents a pound, and sweet potatoes increased 4 cents to 84 cents a pound.
In the dairy case, milk was 9 cents higher at $2.10 a half-gallon, and ice cream was up a nickel to $3.06 a half-gallon. Shoppers could find bargains on dairy products, however, as butter dropped 8 cents to $3.27 a pound.
Regional reports collected by volunteer shoppers around the state Feb. 1-7 showed the market basket averaged $42.26 in northwest Alabama, $43.39 in the central counties, $43.68 in the northeast corner of the state and $44.81 in south Alabama.