Retail Staple Food Prices Edge Higher


Retail food prices at the supermarket increased slightly during the second quarter of 2010, according to the latest American Farm Bureau Federation Marketbasket Survey.

The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $47.20, up $1.66 or 4 percent compared to the first quarter of 2010. The total average price for the 16 items increased about 2 percent compared to one year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, nine increased and seven decreased in average price compared to the prior quarter.

Sirloin tip roast, sliced deli ham, bacon, boneless chicken breasts and ground chuck increased the most in dollar value since the first quarter.

Montana Farm Bureau Federation shoppers found that both the sirloin tip roast at $3.99 and chicken breast at $1.86 were less than the national average. However, Deli-sliced ham was almost .90 cents more than the national average and milk was slightly pricier at $3.39 a gallon compared to $3.06 per gallon national average. Following the national trends, russet potatoes at Montana stores were down in price, as were apples and eggs.

“Consumers are paying a bit more for most meats at the grocery store on average this quarter,” said AFBF Economist John Anderson. “As livestock producers of all types have reduced the size of their herds, wholesale meat supplies have tightened up, which is now affecting consumers.”

Items that nationally increased in price since the first quarter were bagged salad, up 13 cents to $2.80 for a 1-pound bag; flour, up 9 cents to $2.35 for a 5-pound bag; bread, up 5 cents to $1.76 for a 20-ounce loaf; and orange juice, up 2 cents for a half-gallon to $3.00.

Seven foods dropped in price compared to the prior quarter including Russet potatoes, eggs, vegetable oil, shredded cheddar cheese, whole milk, apples and toasted oat cereal.

Of the items showing a decrease in retail price this quarter, several also showed year-to-year declines—potatoes, 9 percent; vegetable oil, 8 percent; shredded cheddar cheese, 3 percent; and flour, 3 percent. 

“The economic recovery continues to be very slow,” Anderson said. “Where retail food prices will head in the next quarter or two is uncertain and depends to some degree on whether or not consumer confidence remains soft or begins a strong rebound.”

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.

“Beginning in 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 just 19 percent, according to Agriculture Department statistics,” Anderson said.

Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this quarter’s $47.20 marketbasket would be $8.97.

AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, has been conducting the informal quarterly marketbasket survey of retail food price trends since 1989. The mix of foods in the marketbasket was updated during the first quarter of 2008.

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 85 shoppers in 32 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in May.

 Source: MFBF

Posted by Kaci Switzer

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