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January 16, 2009   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
January 16, 2009

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- After falling 3.5 percent in December, Alabama food prices rebounded in January, negating about half of last month's savings. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the cost of 20 basic market basket items averaged $53.42 the first week of January, up 74 cents or 1.4 percent from December.

Higher prices for meat and dairy products had the most impact on shoppers' budgets, while savings on produce helped keep the market basket average in check.

At the meat counter, five of the six pork and beef products surveyed increased in price. Pork chops remained unchanged at $3.29 a pound, but bacon was up 16 cents a pound to $4.20, and Boston butts were 17 cents higher at $1.86 a pound. Chuck roasts jumped 31 cents to $3.43 a pound, while ground beef averaged $2.38 a pound, up 14 cents. T-bone steaks also were higher at $8.04, up 17 cents. Shoppers could find savings on poultry, however, as whole fryers fell 8 cents to $1.18 a pound, while chicken breasts and eggs held firm at $2.11 a pound and $1.73 a dozen, respectively.

On the produce aisle, tomato prices retreated following a big increase last month. Across the state, tomatoes averaged $1.61 a pound, down 29 cents. Red potatoes were down 3 cents to 89 cents a pound, and lettuce was a penny cheaper at $1.45 a head. Sweet potatoes, however, were up 7 cents to 86 cents a pound.

In the dairy case, prices were mixed with cottage cheese averaging $2.66 a pound, down 8 cents, while milk was up 8 cents to $3.19 a half-gallon. Ice cream was up a penny to $3.94 a half-gallon, and butter was up 12 cents to $3.96 a pound.

Regional reports collected by volunteer shoppers around the state showed the market basket averaged $51.79 in northwest Alabama, $52.10 in the northeast corner of the state, $54.47 in the central counties and $57.24 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 the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Tax Foundation, it takes just 35 workdays for Americans to buy their food for a year, but it takes 74 days to pay federal taxes.

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