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September 16, 2008   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
September 16, 2008

Breakfast staples eggs and bacon were among the basic market basket items that increased in cost this month.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- While Alabama grocery shoppers could find savings this month on produce, beef and milk, higher prices for pork and eggs resulted in a 1.3 percent increase in the average cost of 20 basic market basket items. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the market basket averaged $53.56 the first week of September, up 70 cents from a month ago.

Strong international demand and high production costs are blamed for the increase. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture this week reduced its pork production forecast for the remainder of 2008 and 2009 based on a slowdown in activity at processing plants and a decrease in carcass weights. This reduction in production will likely continue to put pressure on retail prices into next year.

At Alabama supermarkets, pork chops were up 8 cents a pound in September to $3.55, and bacon was 15 cents higher at $3.79 a pound. Boston butts were unchanged at $1.75 a pound. Meanwhile, egg prices rebounded after a sharp drop last month to settle at $1.75 a dozen, up 24 cents. Chicken breasts also were up 13 cents to $2.34 a pound, but the average cost of whole fryers held steady at $1.20 a pound. On the other end of the meat case, T-bone steaks were down a penny to $8.53 a pound, and ground beef was 4 cents cheaper at $2.38 a pound. Chuck roasts, however, were up 9 cents to $3.52 a pound.

On the produce aisle, tomatoes were the best buy at $1.52 a pound, down 8 cents, while sweet potatoes were down 2 cents to 90 cents a pound. Lettuce was down a penny to $1.41 a head, and red potatoes were unchanged at 90 cents a pound.

Prices were mixed this month in the dairy case. A half-gallon of milk averaged $3.16, down 4 cents, and ice cream was down 14 cents to $3.97 a half-gallon. Cottage cheese and butter, however, were both up 9 cents to $2.77 and $3.70 a pound, respectively.

Regional reports collected by volunteer shoppers throughout the state showed the market basket averaged $51.66 in northeast Alabama, $52.64 in the northwest corner of the state, $55.26 in the central counties and $55.95 in south Alabama.

Alabama Farmers Federation, a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, is the state's largest farm organization. Its county members conduct the informal monthly market basket survey as a tool to reflect retail food price trends. According to American Farm Bureau, today's average American farmer produces enough food and fiber for 143 people in the United States and abroad, compared to 46 people in 1960.

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