Retail grocery prices drop in last quarter

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PARK RIDGE, Ill. – Consumers enjoyed a decrease in retail prices paid at the grocery store during the fourth quarter, according to results of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Marketbasket Survey.

The latest informal survey shows an 18-cent decrease on the average total cost of 16 basic grocery items from this year’s third quarter.

The $35.52 average shoppers paid for the items marked the eighth time a decrease occurred in the fourth quarter since the initial survey conducted in 1989.

Last year’s fourth quarter average experienced a 12-cent drop.

Although total average cost has steadily increased since the survey’s inception, the total is still only $7.02 more than the inaugural average of $28.50 recorded in the first quarter of 1989.

Consumers benefit. “In these tough economic times people still need to eat,” said AFBF Senior Economist John Skorburg. “With lower commodity prices, consumers are now seeing some of these benefits at the supermarket.”

Of the 16 items surveyed, 10 decreased in price, five increased in price and one remained the same compared to the 2001 third quarter survey.

Showing the largest decrease in price was flour, falling 16 cents to $1.38 per 5-pound bag. Pork chops experienced the second largest drop, down 12 cents to $3.29 per pound.

“Given that the price of grains are lower than a year ago, I’m not surprised to see the price of flour lower as well,” said Skorburg.

“In short, most food prices in the United States remain a bargain when compared to almost any other nation in the world.”

Prices decreasing. Other items to decrease in price were:

Russet potatoes, down 10 cents to $1.91 per 5-pound bag. Bacon, down 7 cents to $2.85 per pound. White bread, down 5 cents to $1.17 per 20-ounce loaf. Mayonnaise, down 5 cents to $2.87 per 32-ounce jar.

Vegetable oil, down 4 cents to $2.08 per 32-ounce bottle. Oat cereal, down 3 cents to $2.92 per 10-ounce box. Corn oil, down 2 cents to $2.25 per 32-ounce bottle. Red Delicious apples, down 1 cent to 90 cents per pound.

Prices increasing. Of the items that increased in price, ground chuck experienced the highest jump, up 15 cents to $2.15 per pound, with sirloin tip roast the second highest gainer, rising 12 cents to $3.08 per pound.

Other items to increase in average price included cheddar cheese, up 10 cents to $3.64 per pound, whole fryers, up 6 cents to $1.06 per pound, and eggs, up 4 cents to $1.04 per dozen.

Compared to the third quarter average price, a gallon of whole milk remained steady at $2.94.

While retail grocery store prices have increased over time, the amount of the average food dollar received by America’s farmers and ranchers has actually dropped.

Farm value.

According to the Agriculture Department, the farm value of each food dollar currently spent in the United States is approximately 20 cents, which is down from 41 cents in 1950 and 31 cents in 1980.

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