GROCERY PRICES EDGE HIGHER IN SEPTEMBER
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Food prices at Alabama grocery stores edged 0.8 percent higher this month despite savings on poultry and dairy products. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $43.56, up 33 cents from August.
|A quarter-a-pound jump in lettuce prices this month contributed to an overall market basket increase of 0.8 percent.|
The biggest jump in cost was on the produce aisle where a booming economy, dry growing conditions and a shortage of field workers in the western United States created a "perfect storm" for higher retail prices. Lettuce prices rose sharply to $1.43 a head, up a quarter, while tomatoes were 10 cents higher at $1.39 a pound. Red potatoes were up 7 cents to 81 cents a pound, but sweet potatoes were basically unchanged at 82 cents a pound, up a penny.
Shoppers also could expect to pay more this month at the meat counter. After falling last month, pork prices rebounded in September with chops averaging $2.99 a pound, up 10 cents. Bacon was 7 cents more expensive at $3.19 a pound, and Boston butts were up 6 cents to $1.66 a pound. Beef prices were more stable with T-bone steaks averaging $7.95 a pound, up 2 cents. Ground beef was $1.99 a pound, up 4 cents, and chuck roasts weighed in at $2.95 a pound, up a dime.
Savings could still be found, however, as chicken breasts dropped 12 cents to $1.99 a pound. Whole fryers were up slightly at $1.03 a pound, a difference of 2 cents when compared to August. Eggs also were up 2 cents to $1 a dozen.
In the dairy case, average prices fell for the second straight month despite USDA predictions of higher costs this fall. A half-gallon of milk was a cool $1.98, down 2 cents, and butter was down 8 cents to $2.62 a pound. Ice cream, however, was up 3 cents to $3.28 a half-gallon.
Regional reports collected by volunteer shoppers Sept. 1-8 showed the market basket averaged $42.61 in northwest Alabama, $43.29 in the northeast corner of the state, $43.64 in the central counties and $44.98 in south Alabama.
Alabama Farmers Federation, a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, is the state's largest general farm organization. It conducts its informal monthly market basket survey as a tool to reflect retail food price trends. According to Agriculture Department statistics, Americans spend just 9.5 percent of their disposable income on food annually, the lowest average of any country in the world.