HIGHER BEEF PRICES OFFSET SAVINGS ON EGGS, PRODUCE
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Savings on eggs, tomatoes and lettuce were not enough to offset higher costs for beef steaks and roasts this month as Alabama food prices increased 1.7 percent. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $48.17 in March, up 81 cents from last month.
High feed grain prices and a shortage of hay and grazing in certain parts of the country have combined to push retail beef prices higher. In Alabama, T-bone steaks averaged $8.12 a pound this month, up 80 cents from February. Chuck roasts also were more expensive at $3.16 a pound, up 12 cents, but ground beef was still a good buy at $2.08 a pound, down 7 cents.
Meanwhile, pork prices were up slightly with pork chops ringing in at $3.08 a pound, up 3 cents, and bacon averaging $3.26 a pound, up 2 cents. Boston butts were 4 cents higher at $1.87 a pound. Poultry prices were mixed with whole fryers holding steady at $1.09 a pound while chicken breasts fell 8 cents to $2.10 a pound. Eggs were one of the best buys for the month of March at $1.36 a dozen, down 28 cents.
On the produce aisle, tomatoes were down 6 cents to $1.62 a pound, and lettuce dropped 15 cents to $1.28 a head. Red potatoes, however, were up a nickel to 76 cents a pound while sweet potatoes were unchanged at 82 cents a pound.
In the dairy case, a half-gallon of milk averaged $2.72, up 7 cents, and a half-gallon of ice cream scanned in at $4.06, up 4 cents. Butter was slightly cheaper at $3.06 a pound, down 2 cents.
Regional reports collected by volunteer shoppers around the state March 1-8 showed the market basket averaged $45.22 in northwest Alabama, $48.50 in the central counties, $49.06 in the northeast corner of the state and $50.77 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. On average, farmers receive less than 23 cents of every dollar spent on food.