Staple food prices trend down for fifth straight quarter

Created: 1/06/10 (Wed) | Topic: Issues

Retail food prices at the supermarket decreased for the fifth consecutive quarter and are significantly lower than one year ago, 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 a meal was $42.90, down $3.13 from the third quarter of 2009 and $7.31 lower or about 15 percent less compared to one year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, 11 decreased, four increased and one remained the same in average price compared to the prior quarter.

Russet potatoes, shredded cheddar cheese, deli ham, flour, bacon and boneless chicken breasts declined the most in dollar value from quarter-to-quarter. Potatoes dropped 47 cents for a 5-pound bag to $2.18; shredded cheddar cheese dropped 43 cents per pound to $3.65; sliced deli ham dropped 40 cents per pound to $4.35; flour dropped 38 cents to $2.10 for a 5-pound bag; bacon dropped 37 cents to $3.00 per pound; and boneless chicken breasts dropped 37 cents per pound to $2.71.

“The 2009 U.S. potato harvest set a yield record for the sixth consecutive year. As a result, processors paid lower wholesale prices to potato farmers, which in turn benefitted consumers as grocers dropped retail prices,” said AFBF Economist Stefphanie Gambrell. “Sluggish consumer demand, particularly for meats and dairy products, also played a role in the lower retail grocery prices reported this quarter.”

Other items that decreased in price were sirloin tip roast, down 27 cents to $3.60 per pound; vegetable oil, down 21 cents to $2.51 for a 32-oz. bottle; apples, down 21 cents to $1.25 per pound; bagged salad, down 20 cents to $2.57 for a 1-pound bag; and orange juice, down 20 cents to $2.93 for a half-gallon.

Compared to a year ago, potatoes decreased 35 percent; shredded cheddar cheese decreased 26 percent; chicken breasts decreased 22 percent; vegetable oil decreased 21 percent; and whole milk decreased 20 percent according to AFBF’s survey.

“Again this quarter and compared to one year ago, Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers found that the foods that declined the most in average retail price are among the least-processed items in our marketbasket,” Gambrell said.

Four foods went up slightly in price compared to the prior quarter: milk, up 17 cents to $3.04 per gallon; eggs, up 11 cents to $1.55 per dozen; white bread, up 6 cents to $1.82 for a 20-oz. loaf; and ground chuck, up 4 cents to $2.69 per pound.

Toasted oat cereal remained the same in price compared to the prior quarter, at $2.95 for a 9-oz. box.

Compared to one year ago, none of the items in the survey increased in retail price.

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