Meat and potatoes still a bargain

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WASHINGTON – Retail prices for food at the supermarket increased slightly in the third quarter of 2006, according to the latest American Farm Bureau Federation Marketbasket Survey.
The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 basic grocery items in the third quarter of 2006 was $41.09, up about 3 percent from one year ago.
The surveyed items increased $1.18 in the third quarter of 2006, compared to the second quarter, when the survey items dropped by 82 cents.
Apples, bacon jumped. Of the 16 items surveyed, nine increased and seven decreased in average price compared to the 2006 second-quarter survey. Red Delicious apples showed the largest increase, up 33 cents to $1.51 per pound. Other items that increased in price: bacon, up 32 cents per pound to $3.39; flour, up 25 cents to $1.88 per 5-pound bag; mayonnaise, up 24 cents to $3.37 per 32-oz. jar; toasted oat cereal, up 21 cents to $3.10 per 10-oz. box; whole chicken fryers, up 10 cents to $1.38 per pound; vegetable oil, up 4 cents to $2.57 per 32-oz. bottle; eggs, up 3 cents to $1.08 per dozen; and cheddar cheese, up 1 cent to $3.52 per pound.
Meat and potatoes. Items that decreased in price from the first quarter of 2006 were: corn oil, down 10 cents to $2.70 per 32-oz. bottle; bread, down 8 cents to $1.44 per 20-oz. loaf; Russett potatoes, down 6 cents to $2.45 for a 5-pound bag; pork chops, down 5 cents to $3.32 per pound; sirloin tip roast, down 4 cents to $3.70 per pound; and ground chuck and whole milk, each down 1 cent to $2.65 per pound and $3.03 per gallon, respectively.
“Weather-related yield reductions in Washington state, home to nearly 60 percent of U.S. apple production, contributed to the retail price increase for apples,” said Farm Bureau economist Jim Sartwelle.
What farmers get. The share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped over time, despite gradual increases in retail grocery prices.
“If you look back to the mid-1970s, at that time farmers received an average of one-third of consumer retail food expenditures. That figure has dropped steadily over time and is now just 22 percent, according to Agriculture Department statistics,” Sartwelle said.
Using that percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this quarter’s $41.09 marketbasket total would be $9.04.
According to USDA statistics, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable income on food annually, the lowest average of any country in the world.

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