SHOPPERS HAVE ANOTHER REASON TO BE THANKFUL
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Lower grocery prices gave Alabama shoppers another reason to be thankful this month, as the average cost of 20 basic market basket items dropped 2.3 percent. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the market basket averaged $44.16, down $1.05 from October. The special Thanksgiving edition of the survey also revealed that turkeys, sweet potatoes, apples and oranges were less expensive than a year ago, while the costs of other traditional holiday ingredients increased.
The centerpiece of many Thanksgiving meals, the turkey, averaged 97 cents a pound at Alabama supermarkets, compared to $1.01 last year. Holiday hams were still a bargain at $1.64 a pound, though the average price was a penny higher than in 2004.
Pecans posted the biggest price change on the holiday menu, averaging $8.19 a pound, up $1.48 from a year ago. Severe hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 are blamed for the increase, which knocked immature nuts to the ground and, in some cases, damaged or uprooted trees. Apples, however, were less expensive this year at $1.06 a pound, down 3 cents, as were oranges at 83 cents a pound, down a dime. Alabama, which ranks fifth in sweet potato production, enjoyed good weather for vegetable crops in 2005, which contributed to a 2-cent-per-pound drop in the price of sweet potatoes. The Southern specialty averaged 84 cents a pound, according to the survey.
Other Thanksgiving staples included cranberry sauce, which was up 2 cents to 96 cents for a 1-pound can, and pre-packaged stuffing, which was up 20 cents to $2.83 a pound.
The Federation's monthly food price survey
revealed aisle-to-aisle savings, when compared to October.
At the meat counter, beef prices fell 3 percent, due to a 31-cent drop in the average cost of T-bone steaks. The premium cut averaged $7.75 a pound, while ground beef and chuck roasts were each a nickel cheaper at $2.18 a pound and $3.26 a pound, respectively. Pork prices dropped almost 2 percent with pork chops averaging $3.21 a pound, down 25 cents. Bacon was 3 cents cheaper at $3.39 a pound, but Boston butts were up 11 cents to $1.72 a pound. Poultry prices were mixed with chicken breasts averaging $1.84 a pound, down 4 cents, while whole fryers were up 9 cents to 99 cents a pound. Eggs fell 4 cents to 92 cents a dozen.
On the produce aisle, tomato prices stabilized after a double-digit increase last month. Across the state, tomatoes averaged $1.50 a pound, down 17 cents. Lettuce was up 2 cents to $1.22 a head, and red potatoes were unchanged at 65 cents a pound.
In the dairy case, the perfect complement to sweet potato pie, ice cream, was down 28 cents to $2.91 a half-gallon, while milk prices held steady at $2.09 a half-gallon. Holiday bakers continued to enjoy good prices for butter, which averaged $3.11 a pound, up a penny.
Regional reports collected throughout the state Nov. 1-9 showed the market basket averaged $41.51 in northwest Alabama, $44.24 in the central counties, $44.88 in south Alabama and $46.15 in the northeast corner of the state.