ALABAMA FOOD PRICES REBOUND IN MAY
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - After falling sharply last month, Alabama food prices rebounded in May, spurred by double-digit increases for bacon, steaks and butter. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $52.18 the first week of May, up $1.21 or 2.4 percent from April.
Declining meat production contributed to higher prices as farmers reduced their herd sizes following several unprofitable months, a trend that is likely to continue into 2010 according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest meat and poultry outlook. In Alabama supermarkets, shoppers could find bargains at the meat case, but spikes in the prices of bacon and T-bone steaks more than offset savings on other cuts. On average, bacon was up 32 cents a pound to $4.18, and steaks jumped 57 cents to $8.41 a pound. Boston butts also were up 6 cents to $1.67 a pound, but pork chops were down 35 cents to $3 a pound. Other value items included ground beef at $2.34 a pound, down 10 cents, and chuck roasts at $3.21 a pound, down 12 cents. Poultry prices were mixed with whole fryers averaging $1.20 a pound, down 5 cents, while chicken breasts were up 7 cents to $2.21 a pound. Eggs were down 13 cents to $1.36 a dozen.
On the produce aisle, tomatoes posted the biggest increase at $1.67 a pound, up 24 cents. Meanwhile, red potatoes were unchanged at 89 cents a pound; lettuce was up a penny to $1.40 a head, and sweet potatoes were up 6 cents to 90 cents a pound.
In the dairy case, prices were basically unchanged except for butter, which rebounded sharply after an advertised sale by a major retailer skewed the average price in April. The average price of a half-gallon of milk held steady at $2.80, and a half-gallon of brand-name ice cream was up 2 cents to $3.95. Cottage cheese was up 7 cents to $2.74 a pound, and butter was back up 44 cents to $3.53 a pound.
Regional reports collected by volunteer shoppers throughout the state showed the market basket averaged $50.06 in northeast Alabama, $51.77 in the northwest corner of the state, $53.47 in south Alabama and $53.96 in the central counties.
Alabama Farmers Federation, a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, conducts the informal monthly market basket survey as a tool to reflect retail food price trends. According to USDA, farmers and ranchers receive only 19 cents of every retail dollar spent on food. In 1980, farmers received 31 cents.