MARCH BRINGS LITTLE CHANGE IN GROCERY PRICES
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- While unseasonably warm weather spawned severe storms across Alabama in early March, the month came "in like a lamb" with regard to average food prices. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $51.90 the first week of March, an increase of just 18 cents or three-tenths of 1 percent from a month ago.
At the meat counter, prices were mixed with shoppers enjoying savings on T-bone steaks and bacon. Reports collected by volunteer shoppers March 1-10 showed bacon averaged $3.65 a pound, down 7 cents, while steaks were down 12 cents to $8.20 a pound. Pork chops also were a penny cheaper at $3.37 a pound, but Boston butts were up a nickel to $1.70 a pound. Less expensive cuts of beef also posted modest gains with ground beef averaging $2.33 a pound, up 3 cents, and chuck roasts ringing in at $3.20 a pound, up 7 cents. Poultry prices were marginally lower with whole fryers averaging $1.11 a pound, down 1 cent, while chicken breasts were down 2 cents to $2.28 a pound. Eggs were up for the second straight month to $2.09 a dozen, an increase of 4 cents.
On the produce aisle, increased costs to transport vegetables from warmer climates continued to put pressure on local prices. Red potatoes were up 4 cents to 72 cents a pound; sweet potatoes increased 2 cents to 89 cents a pound; and lettuce was up 2 cents to $1.37 a head. Tomatoes, however, were down 3 cents to $2.05 a pound.
In the dairy case, milk was down a nickel to $3.09 a half-gallon, but brand-name ice cream was up 7 cents to $4.26 a half-gallon. Meanwhile, butter and cottage cheese both fell 7 cents a pound in March to $3.29 and $2.56, respectively.
Regional reports collected throughout the state showed the market basket averaged $49.36 in northwest Alabama, $50.86 in the northeast corner of the state, $53.84 in the central counties and $55.40 in south Alabama.
Alabama Farmers Federation, a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, is the state's largest 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 each year, compared to 14 percent in Japan, 15 percent in France, 26 percent in China and 55 percent in Indonesia.