SURVEY SHOWS ALABAMA FOOD PRICES ON THE RISE
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Strong demand for meat and poultry products combined with soaring fuel costs pushed Alabama food prices 2.1 percent higher in September, according to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey. The survey, conducted Sept. 1-7, showed the cost of 20 basic market items averaged $44.65 this month, up 91 cents from August.
Although the Consumer Price Index for August, which was issued by the Department of Labor this week, reported no change in food prices, the Federation report likely reflects more of the impact of post-Hurricane Katrina fuel increases because it was conducted in September. This snapshot of Alabama food prices was taken by volunteer shoppers across the state. They reported higher prices on almost every aisle.
At the meat counter, beef prices were up 5 percent with T-bone steaks averaging $8.56 a pound, up 33 cents. Ground beef was up 8 cents to $2.20 a pound, and chuck roasts weighed in at $3.12 a pound, up 18 cents. Pork prices climbed 1.1 percent due mainly to a quarter-per-pound increase in the price of bacon. Boston butts, however, were less expensive at $1.53 a pound, down 14 cents, and pork chops were a penny cheaper at $3.41 a pound. Meanwhile, poultry prices were up for the fourth straight month with whole fryers averaging 95 cents a pound, up 2 cents. Chicken breast were up 8 cents to $2.20 a pound, and eggs were up a nickel at 90 cents a dozen.
In the dairy case, milk averaged $2.05 a half-gallon, up 5 cents, and ice cream was 15 cents higher at $3.09 a half-gallon. Butter also was more expensive at $3.14 a pound, up 8 cents.
The one bright spot in the market basket this month was produce, which remained unchanged thanks to a drop in tomato prices. Tomatoes averaged $1.20 this month, down 8 cents, but lettuce was up a dime to $1.24 a head. Red potatoes and sweet potatoes each were up a penny to 71 cents a pound and 88 cents a pound, respectively.
Regional reports collected throughout the state showed the market basket averaged $42.95 in northwest Alabama, $44.35 in the central counties, $45.08 in south Alabama, and $45.91 in the northeast corner of the state.