HOLIDAY FOOD PRICES BOTH NAUGHTY AND NICE
MONTGOMERY, Ala., Dec. 13-- Christmas grocery shoppers found a mixed bag at Alabama supermarkets this month as savings on beef and pork were offset by higher prices for eggs and tomatoes. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $51.39 the first week of December, up 34 cents or seven-tenths of 1 percent from a month ago.
|Average Alabama prices for hams were slightly lower this Christmas season than a year ago.|
Compared to a year ago, average prices for holiday staples were higher, but shoppers got an early Christmas present as prices for the centerpiece of many family feasts was slightly less expensive. Based on surveys collected by volunteer shoppers, smoked hams averaged $1.87 per pound, down 3 cents from last year. Apples were down 4 cents a pound from 2006 prices at $1.31, and cranberry sauce was down 12 cents to $1.09 for a 16-ounce can. Pecans and oranges, however, were higher with pecans averaging $7.81 a pound this year, compared to $6.99 in 2006. A five-pound bag of oranges weighed in at $4.44, up 63 cents from last year.
As for monthly food trends, beef and pork prices declined for the second month in a row, with pork chops averaging $3.03 a pound, down a quarter from the November average. Bacon was down 2 cents to $3.76 a pound, and Boston butts were unchanged at $1.72 a pound. T-bone steaks dropped 4 cents to $8.23 a pound, and chuck roasts were 8 cents cheaper at $3.01 a pound. Ground beef, however, was up 14 cents to $2.24 a pound. Poultry prices were mixed in December with fryers selling for $1.13 a pound, down 2 cents, while chicken breasts increased 13 cents to $2.21 a pound. Eggs posted the biggest gain of any item surveyed this month, recording an average price of $2 a dozen, up 41 cents.
On the produce aisle, a sharp, seasonal increase on tomato prices more than offset savings on lettuce. Tomatoes averaged $2.14 a pound, up 34 cents, while lettuce dropped 31 cents to $1.44 a head. Red potatoes were down 3 cents to 71 cents a pound, and another holiday favorite, sweet potatoes, were down 8 cents to 82 cents a pound.
In the dairy case, milk averaged $3.15 a half-gallon, down a penny, but ice cream was up a dime to $4.31 a half-gallon. Holiday bakers, however, enjoyed savings on butter, which averaged $3.28 a pound, down 12 cents from November.
Regional reports collected throughout the state showed the market basket averaged $49.11 in northwest Alabama, $50.33 in the northeast corner of the state, $52.66 in the central counties and $55.02 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.