Eggs, milk, chicken and beef all down in price
Lower retail prices for several foods, including eggs, whole milk, cheddar cheese, chicken breast, sirloin tip roast and ground chuck resulted in a decrease in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Fall Harvest Marketbasket Survey.
The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $49.70, down $4.40 or 8 percent compared to a survey conducted a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, 13 decreased and three increased in average price.
Egg prices dropped significantly due to production recovering well from the 2014 avian influenza, according to John Newton, AFBF director, market intelligence. Milk prices are down substantially from prior years, particularly compared to record-highs in 2014, due to the current global dairy surplus.
“For all commodities in agriculture there is a lot of product on hand and prices are depressed,” Newton explained.
Shoppers in Montana are realizing the drop, as well. Most products in the state were priced less than the national average, with substantially lower prices for grated cheddar, whole milk, potatoes and bacon. Chicken breasts, sirloin tip roast and ground chuck were only pennies above the national average.
“This shows how affordable food in this country is,” noted Montana Farm Bureau shopper Janet Krob. “These are amazingly reasonable prices for nutritious, delicious food for your family. However, keep in mind farmers and ranchers are getting a lot less for commodities this year than last year. Although they are seeing less income, they keep producing the safe food consumers in the U.S depend on.”
Apples and bagged salad were slightly up. “Dry conditions in the Northeast and Northwest the last few years likely contributed to smaller supplies and higher retail prices for apples,” Newton said. In addition, he said salad prices are up due to lower output in the West, particularly in California and Arizona.
The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.
“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 17 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Newton said.
Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this $49.70 marketbasket would be approximately $8.45.
AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, began conducting informal quarterly marketbasket surveys of retail food price trends in 1989. The series includes a Spring Picnic survey, Summer Cookout survey, Fall Harvest survey and Thanksgiving survey.
According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world. A total of 59 shoppers in 26 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in September.
Source: Montana Farm Bureau Federation