DAIRY PRICES DRIVE GROCERY BILLS HIGHER
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Soaring dairy prices pushed Alabama grocery bills higher in August despite savings on beef, tomatoes and certain cuts of pork. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $51.45 this month, up $1.50 or 3 percent from July.
|Growing demand for cheese and milk in developing countries like China, coupled with a drought in Australia and reduced supplies in the United States and European Union, are blamed for increased dairy prices.|
Growing demand for cheese and milk in developing countries like China, coupled with a drought in Australia and reduced supplies in the United States and European Union, are blamed for increased dairy prices that are expected to remain high through 2007. In Alabama, a jump in milk, ice cream and butter prices in August skewed the market basket report, which otherwise showed savings on many items and modest gains on others.
At the meat counter, shoppers were greeted by lower prices on beef as T-bone steaks averaged $8.28 a pound, down 19 cents. Ground beef also was 2 cents cheaper at $2.16 a pound, and chuck roasts were up a penny to $3.25 a pound. Pork chops and Boston butts also were good buys at $3.28 and $1.86 a pound, respectively, both down 11 cents. Bacon, however, was up 50 cents to $3.98 a pound. Poultry prices were mixed with whole fryers averaging $1.17 a pound, up 3 cents, while chicken breasts were down 8 cents to $2.30 a pound. Eggs were up 14 cents to $1.54 a dozen.
On the produce aisle, bargain hunters could find tomatoes averaging $1.51 a pound, down 30 cents, while red potatoes were a nickel cheaper at 70 cents a pound. Lettuce was up slightly to $1.32 a head, an increase of 8 cents, and sweet potatoes were up 7 cents to 92 cents a pound.
In the dairy case, a half-gallon of milk averaged $3.15, up 32 cents, and brand-name ice cream was up 24 cents to $4.32 a half-gallon. Butter also was higher at $3.57 a pound, up 29 cents.
Regional reports collected by volunteer shoppers around the state Aug. 1-8 showed the market basket averaged $48.46 in northwest Alabama, $51.91 in the northeast corner of the state, $51.79 in the central counties and $53.99 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, farmers and ranchers receive only 19 cents out of every retail dollar spent on food, while 81 cents go to off-farm costs associated with marketing, processing and distributing food. In 1980, farmers received 31 cents out of every food dollar.