OCTOBER GROCERY PRICES UP DESPITE SAVINGS ON BEEF, POULTRY
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Higher prices for pork, eggs and produce offset savings on beef and poultry this month as Alabama food prices increased 1.3 percent. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the cost of 20 basic market basket items averaged $45.21 in October, up 56 cents from last month.
Poultry prices were down sharply this month after posting gains for the four previous months. U.S. Department of Agriculture reports indicate production is catching up with increases in demand. Earlier price increases were fueled by a 14 percent increase in exports to Russia and a 26 percent increase in exports to Mexico during the first half of 2005. In Alabama, whole fryers were down a nickel in October to 90 cents a pound, while chicken breasts averaged $1.88 a pound, down 32 cents.
At the meat counter, beef prices fell 2 percent due to seasonal increases in production at processing facilities. Higher home energy costs, however, could influence food prices this winter as cost-conscious consumers opt to purchase less-expensive cuts of meat. This month, T-bone steaks averaged $8.06 at Alabama supermarkets, down 50 cents from September. Ground beef was up 3 cents to $2.23 a pound, and chuck roasts were up 19 cents to $3.31 a pound. Meanwhile, pork prices increased 2.5 percent with bacon averaging $3.42 a pound, up 9 cents, and Boston butts averaging $1.61 a pound, up 8 cents. Chops were slightly lower at $3.46 a pound, down 5 cents.
On the produce aisle, cooler weather cut tomato production, triggering a 47-cent-per-pound increase in prices. Across the state, tomatoes averaged $1.67 a pound, but lettuce was down 4 cents to $1.20 a head. Red potatoes also were cheaper at 65 cents a pound, down 6 cents, and sweet potatoes fell a nickel to 83 cents a pound.
In the dairy case, prices were mixed with butter averaging $3.10 a pound, down 4 cents, while milk was up 4 cents to $2.09 a half-gallon. Ice cream was up a dime to $3.19 a half-gallon, and eggs were up 6 cents to 96 cents a dozen.
Regional reports collected by volunteer shoppers across Alabama Oct. 1-10 showed the market basket averaged $43.61 in northwest Alabama, $44.17 in the central counties, $45.44 in south Alabama and $47.67 in the northeast corner of the state.