HIGHER POULTRY PRICES OFFSET SAVINGS ON BEEF
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Higher costs for poultry and eggs edged Alabama food prices three-tenths of 1 percent higher in December. Savvy shoppers, however, could find bargains on almost every aisle thanks to mixed prices for beef, pork, dairy products and produce. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, 20 basic market basket items averaged $44.30 in December, up 14 cents from last month.
Poultry prices were up for the second straight month. Federation commodity experts say higher heating bills this winter will increase production costs for poultry, but they don't expect a major change in prices at the grocery store because the farmer's share of retail poultry prices is only a few cents per pound. Meanwhile, increased domestic and foreign demand pushed whole fryers to $1.03 a pound this month, up 4 cents, with chicken breasts selling for $1.86 a pound, up 2 cents. Eggs were up 11 cents to $1.03 a dozen.
At the meat counter, prices were mixed with pork chops averaging $3.41 a pound, up 20 cents, while bacon was down a nickel to $3.34 a pound. Boston butts also were less expensive at $1.66 a pound, down 6 cents. A 1.4-percent drop in beef prices was triggered by 28-cent-per-pound savings on chuck roasts, which averaged $2.98 a pound. Ground beef was lower at $2.14 a pound, down 4 cents, but T-bone steaks continued to fetch a premium at $7.90 a pound, up 15 cents.
On the produce aisle, cooler weather brought higher prices for tomatoes, but yielded savings on an Alabama specialty and seasonal treat -- sweet potatoes. Across the state, tomatoes averaged $1.69 a pound, up 19 cents, while sweet potatoes fell 13 cents to 71 cents a pound. Red potatoes were down a nickel to 60 cents a pound, and lettuce was 4 cents cheaper at $1.18 a head.
In the dairy case, milk was up 2 cents to $2.11 a half-gallon, but shoppers saved 9 cents on butter, which averaged $3.02 a pound. A half-gallon of ice cream was $3.13, up 22 cents from November.
Regional reports collected by volunteer shoppers throughout Alabama Dec. 1-8 showed that market basket averaged $42.51 in northwest Alabama, $44.20 in the central counties, $45.02 in the northeast corner of the state and $45.37 in south Alabama.