(PHOENIX, AZ) -Arizona retail food prices at the supermarket are up slightly in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the latest Arizona Farm Bureau Federation Market Basket Survey. The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 basic grocery items was $51.39, up 68 cents or about 1% above the third quarter of 2011. Comparatively, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s national survey was $49.23, down $3.89 or 7% lower compared to the third quarter of 2011.
“Since about the last quarter of 2010, we have seen consistently higher prices quarter-to-quarter on a broad range of marketbasket items,” said Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau Director of Public Relations, Marketing and Ag Education. “While the fourth quarter marketbasket price was higher than the third quarter, the items in this basket suggest that food price inflation is at least slowing down.”
High-end meat cuts and dairy products in Arizona accounted for the biggest increase in the marketbasket.
“With consumer confidence still a little shaky closing out the year, it appears that retailers are holding the line on food prices as much as possible,” explains Murphree. “But as we’ve seen gas prices rise in just the last few weeks we remain cautious. Energy prices are always the wild card. If oil continues to rise, all bets are off.”
The importance of improving farm practices is not lost on Arizona Farm Bureau members. “To feed the majority of Americans, crop and livestock agriculture must continually become more efficient, and in many cases, larger to spread energy and labor costs across more acres to help stabilize prices at the grocery store,” said John Boelts, vegetable farmer from Yuma, Arizona and Yuma County Farm Bureau president. Boelts, who said the cost for just one refueling of one large tillage tractor can be more than $600, explained that labor and energy are the two largest operating costs that must be controlled.
To access an entire menu focused on those food items down in price in the fourth quarter and designed around stretching your food dollar, go to www.fillyourplate.org. Look for the latest “Stretch Your Food Dollar” menu and the additional food savings tips.
Of the 16 items surveyed in Arizona, eight decreased, six increased, and two remained the same compared to the 2011 third quarter survey. The national survey quarter-to-quarter comparison shows 14 decreased, two increased.
In Arizona, off-the-shelf prices for shredded cheddar cheese showed the greatest decrease in price down 34 cents to $4.68 a pound; ground chuck down 19 cents to $3.30 a pound; apples down 18 cents to $1.33 a pound; russet potatoes down 17 cents to $2.79 a pound; flour down 10 cents to $2.13 a 5-pound bag; bagged salad down 6 cents to $2.55 for the pound bag; boneless chicken down 4 cents to $3.43 a pound; and vegetable oil down 1 cent to $2.60 for the 32 oz bottle.
Sirloin roast showed the largest price increase up 49 cents to $5.83 a pound. The other items that increased in price were bacon up 43cents to $4.85 a pound; eggs up 43 cents to $2.07 a dozen; whole milk up 21 cents to $3.00 a gallon; white bread up 20 cents to $ 1.80 a 20-oz loaf and sliced deli ham up 1 cents to $4.76 a pound.
The 8.9-oz box of toasted oat cereal and a half gallon of orange juice remained the same at $3.29 and $2.98 respectively.
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 gradually increased over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.
“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. That figure has decreased steadily and is now just 16 percent, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s revised Food Dollar Series Department statistics,” explains John Anderson, American Farm Bureau Economist. The USDA’s new Food Dollar Series may be found online at http://www.ers.usda.gov/FoodDollar/app/.
Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the Arizona farmer’s share of this quarter’s $51.39 Market Basket total would be $8.22.
The Farm Bureau Market Basket Survey is unscientific, but serves as a gauge of actual price trends across the state. Arizona’s bargain shoppers statewide should find individual items at prices comparable to the Farm Bureau survey averages and certainly cheaper with discounts and in-store specials. Arizona Farm Bureau seeks to identify the best in-store price, excluding promotional coupons and special deals.
About the Arizona Farm Bureau
Arizona Farm Bureau began a quarterly Market Basket starting the fourth quarter of 2006. The Arizona Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization dedicated to preserving and improving the Agriculture industry through member involvement in education, political activities, programs and services. Go to www.azfb.org to learn more. To obtain “Stretch Your Food Dollar” menu and nutrition information go to www.fillyourplate.org.
As a member services organization, individuals can become a member by contacting the Farm Bureau. For information on member benefits call 480.635.3609.