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November 18, 2009   Email to Friend 

Melissa Martin
(334) 612-5448
November 18, 2009

MONTGOMERY, Ala., Nov. 18-- As extra seats at the dining room table fill with family this year, shoppers may be surprised to find that many of those extra Thanksgiving dinner ingredients will be more affordable. According to a holiday market basket survey conducted by the Alabama Farmers Federation Nov. 1-10, the average cost of turkey, ham, pecans, sweet potatoes and apples dropped while cranberry sauce, pre-packaged stuffing and oranges increased in price.

Whole turkeys averaged $1.11 a pound, down 7 cents from a year ago, and smoked hams were down 9 cents to $1.86 a pound. Also more affordable this year were pecans, down 88 cents to $6.60 a pound; sweet potatoes, down a penny to 82 cents a pound; and apples, which were a bargain at $1.23 a pound, a savings of 31 cents. Cranberry sauce, oranges and pre-packaged stuffing will cost shoppers more this holiday season, however. Cranberry sauce increased 10 cents to $1.24 per can, while oranges increased 11 cents to $1.11 a pound, and pre-packaged stuffing increased 30 cents to $2.57 a pound.

While stocking up on Thanksgiving ingredients will be cheaper overall, holiday specials on seasonal favorites may not extend to the rest of the grocery store this year. According to the Federation's monthly food price survey, the average cost of 20 basic market basket items increased from the October average. Alabama shoppers paid 78 cents more this month for the surveyed items, which had a total average cost of $51.60.

In the meat case, shoppers enjoyed lower prices on most items. Pork chops were down 20 cents to $3.13 a pound; Boston butts were down 2 cents to $1.57 a pound; steak was also down 2 cents a pound to $8.24; chuck roasts were down 3 cents a pound to $3.31; and chicken breasts were down 12 cents to $2.01 a pound. Shoppers found increased prices on bacon, ground beef and whole fryers, however. Bacon was up 24 cents to $4.01 a pound; ground beef was up 2 cents to $2.24 a pound; and fryers were up a penny to $1.19 a pound. Eggs were also up this month to $1.53 a dozen, an increase of 22 cents.

News in the produce counter wasn't quite as good this month, as prices increased on average 12 cents. Tomatoes were up 21 cents to $1.68 a pound; red potatoes were up 14 cents to 92 cents a pound; and lettuce was up 17 cents to $1.51 a head. Sweet potatoes dropped 3 cents this month, however, to 84 cents a pound.

In the dairy case, milk and ice cream shoppers found an increase in prices, while those who were after cottage cheese and butter noticed savings. Milk was up 6 cents this month to $2.84 a half-gallon, while ice cream increased 11 cents to $3.89 a half-gallon. Cottage cheese was down 3 cents this month to $2.47 a pound, and butter dropped 10 cents to $3.42 a pound.

Regional reports collected by volunteer shoppers throughout the state Nov. 1-10 showed the market basket averaged $50.03 in northwest Alabama, $51.62 in northeast Alabama, $51.36 in central Alabama, and $53.49 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.

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