DECEMBER FOOD PRICES BOTH NAUGHTY AND NICE
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Savings on beef and produce were offset by higher prices on eggs and dairy products this month, according to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey. The report, collected by volunteer shoppers Dec. 1-9, showed the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $44.37 in December, up 11 cents or two-tenths of 1 percent from last month.
The best bargains for holiday chefs were found on the produce aisle this month where tomato prices fell 35 cents to $1.65 a pound. Sweet potatoes, a seasonal favorite, also were down a dime to 71 cents a pound, while red potatoes were unchanged at 80 cents a pound. Lettuce was up slightly to $1.21 a head, a difference of 4 cents when compared to November.
Good buys also could be found at the meat counter where T-bone steaks dropped 11 cents to $7.67 a pound. Chuck roasts also were a good menu choice for family gatherings as prices averaged $2.84 a pound, down 26 cents. Ground beef, however, edged higher to $2.04 a pound, up 7 cents. Shoppers in the mood for pork could choose a Boston butt for $1.64 a pound, down six cents, or pork chops, which were down a penny to $3.09 a pound. Bacon, though, was up 9 cents to $3.17 a pound.
Poultry prices were mixed as well with whole fryers selling for 96 cents a pound, down a nickel, while chicken breasts were up 7 cents to $2.15 a pound. High demand by holiday bakers took a toll on egg prices as a dozen eggs averaged $1.30 in December, up 28 cents from last month.
In the dairy case, a half-gallon of milk scanned in at $2.05, up a penny, but butter prices increased a nickel to $2.68 a pound, and ice cream was up 22 cents to $3.48 a half-gallon.
Regional reports collected by volunteer shoppers around the state showed the market basket averaged $41.54 in northwest Alabama, $44.52 in the northeast corner of the state, $45.72 in south Alabama and $46.41 in the central counties.
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.