OCTOBER SHOPPERS SPEND LESS ON DAIRY, PORK
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - After posting significant increases in the spring and summer, dairy prices fell for the second month in a row, leading to lower overall food bills for Alabama shoppers. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $50.47 in October, down 15 cents or three-tenths of 1 percent from last month.
While the recent stabilization of dairy prices is a welcome relief for shoppers, experts say increased global demand - especially in China - will likely keep milk, cheese and yogurt prices higher than 2006 levels for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, the average Alabama price for milk this month was $2.98 a half-gallon, down 14 cents, while butter was down 11 cents to $3.22 a pound. Brand name ice cream was a penny cheaper at $4.21 a half-gallon, and cottage cheese was down 24 cents to $2.37 a pound.
At the meat counter, prices were mixed in October as savings on pork partially offset higher prices for beef. Bacon was down 7 cents to $3.71 a pound, and Boston butts were a dime less expensive at $1.74 a pound. Pork chops were unchanged at $3.34 a pound. Higher-value cuts of beef posted the biggest gains with T-bone steaks averaging $8.46, up 31 cents, while chuck roasts were up 8 cents to $3.17 a pound. Ground beef averaged 6 cents more than a month ago at $2.19 a pound. Poultry prices were relatively stable with whole fryers averaging $1.16 a pound, up 3 cents, while chicken breasts were up 2 cents to $2.28 a pound. Egg prices, however, fell 9 cents to $1.53 a dozen.
On the produce aisle, lower prices for lettuce and sweet potatoes helped make up for a large seasonal increase in the cost of tomatoes. Across the state, a head of lettuce averaged $1.35, down 9 cents, and sweet potatoes weighed in at 84 cents a pound, down 6 cents. Red potatoes were up a penny to 70 cents a pound, but tomatoes jumped 23 cents to $1.65 a pound.
Regional reports collected by volunteer shoppers Oct. 1-10 showed the market basket averaged $47.81 in northwest Alabama, $50.57 in the northeast corner of the state, $51.68 in the central counties and $53.28 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, U.S. consumers spend just 10 percent of their disposable income on food, compared to 14 percent in Japan, 20 percent in Israel, 26 percent in China, 39 percent in the Philippines and 55 percent in Indonesia.