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June 23, 2009   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
June 23, 2009

A national oversupply of milk means lower prices for consumers and tough times for producers.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. --  Savings on dairy products and produce more than offset higher prices for certain beef and pork products this month as the average cost of 20 basic market basket items fell 1 percent at Alabama supermarkets. According to the Alabama Farmers Federation's monthly food price survey, the market basket averaged $51.60 the first week of June, down 58 cents from a month earlier.

Sharp declines in the cost of ice cream and cottage cheese invited shoppers to celebrate June Dairy Month, but across the state and nation, dairy farmers found little reason to smile. While lower prices on dairy products are good news for consumers, they are symptomatic of an oversupply of milk that's forcing some farmers out of business and others to reduce their herd size. Dairy industry experts blame the sagging economy, which reduced exports of dairy products by 26 percent the first four months of the year.

Meanwhile, the average price of ice cream fell 23 cents across Alabama this month to $3.72 a half-gallon, and cottage cheese was also down 23 cents to $2.51 a pound. Milk was a nickel cheaper at $2.75 a half-gallon, and butter was down 6 cents to $3.47 a pound.

On the produce aisle, spring salad ingredients were good buys with lettuce averaging $1.31 a head, down 9 cents, while tomatoes were down 8 cents to $1.59 a pound. Red potatoes were unchanged at 89 cents a pound, but sweet potatoes were up 4 cents to 94 cents a pound.

In the meat case, prices were mixed as steaks and chops posted big gains while roasts and bacon were less expensive. On average, pork chops were up 13 cents to $3.13 a pound, and T-bone steaks were up 24 cents to $8.65 a pound. Boston butts also edged higher to $1.71 a pound, up 4 cents, and ground beef was up a dime to $2.44 a pound. Bacon, however, was down 14 cents to $4.04 a pound, and chuck roasts were down 10 cents to $3.11 a pound. Still, the best Independence Day grill fare may be chicken breasts, which fell 19 cents to $2.02 a pound. Whole fryers were up 3 cents at $1.23 a pound, and eggs were down 4 cents at $1.32 a dozen.

Regional reports collected by volunteer shoppers across the state June 1-10 showed the market basket averaged $49.82 in northeast Alabama, $49.90 in the northwest corner of the state, $52.14 in the central counties and $55.51 in south Alabama.

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. The average dairy cow produces about 70 pounds of milk per day or enough for 3.3 pounds of butter, 8.1 gallons of milk or 7 pounds of cheese. For more information about June Dairy Month, visit www.southeastdairy.org.

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