GROCERY SHOPPERS GET EARLY CHRISTMAS PRESENT
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Falling fuel prices and a weakening economy resulted in aisle-to-aisle savings on 20 basic market basket items, according to the Alabama Farmers Federation's food price survey for December. Reports collected by volunteer shoppers across the state Dec. 1-10 showed the market basket averaged $52.68, down $1.89 or 3.5 percent from last month, making December's average the lowest since July.
At the meat counter, prices were down on all six pork and beef items in the survey. Pork chops fell 27 cents to $3.29 a pound; bacon was down 14 cents to $4.04 a pound; and Boston butts were off 17 cents to $1.69 a pound. T-bone steaks dropped 48 cents to $7.87 a pound, and chuck roasts were down 40 cents to $3.12 a pound. Ground beef was 20 cents lower at $2.24 a pound. Poultry prices, however, were mixed as whole fryers edged 3 cents higher to $1.26 a pound, while chicken breasts fell 3 cents to $2.11 a pound. Eggs were slightly less expensive at $1.73 a dozen, down 2 cents.
On the produce aisle, seasonal increases for tomatoes offset some of the savings on other products. Tomatoes were up 27 cents to $1.90 a pound, but lettuce was 8 cents cheaper at $1.46 a head. Red potatoes were a penny lower at 92 cents a pound, and sweet potatoes were down 4 cents to 79 cents a pound.
In the dairy case, milk averaged $3.11 a half-gallon, down 15 cents, and ice cream was down a dime at $3.93 a half-gallon. Cottage cheese fell 11 cents to $2.74 a pound, and butter was a nickel less expensive at $3.84 a pound.
Holiday shoppers also had reason to celebrate as prices for seasonal favorites dropped. Since Thanksgiving, the price of a smoked ham fell 11 cents a pound to $1.84; pecan halves were down 60 cents to $6.88 a pound; apples slid 15 cents to $1.39 a pound; and oranges were down 28 cents to 72 cents a pound.
Regional reports collected around the state showed the market basket averaged $51.21 in northwest Alabama, $52.41 in the northeast corner of the state, $53.42 in the central counties and $54.16 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. Despite recent increases in food prices, Americans will spend 19 percent less of their disposable income this year on food than in 1974.