Arizona retail food prices at the supermarket are down slightly in the first quarter of 2012, according to the latest Arizona Farm Bureau Federation Market Basket Survey. The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 basic grocery items was $50.79, down 60 cents or about 1% below the fourth quarter of 2011. Comparatively, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s national survey was $52.47, up $3.24 or 7% higher compared to the fourth quarter of 2011.
Compared to this time last year, the 2012 first quarter Marketbasket shows that food prices have increased $2.94, or 6%.
“Everyone is looking to save money. As the mother of four growing children, cooking at home is one way we save money and serve up good healthy food at the same time,” said Sharla Mortimer, Arizona Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee chair and rancher and farmer in Yavapai County. “Additionally, I buy seasonal fruits and vegetables to stretch our food budget.”
In Arizona, ground beef and flour accounted for the biggest increase in the Marketbasket this quarter.
“Ironically, in the last three Marketbaskets, we’ve gone back and forth with the 1% change,” explains Murphree. “The U.S. is the biggest producer and shipper of our food and feed grains. This typically keeps our overall food prices more economical than the rest of the world. So we want our corn, wheat, soybean and other grain farmers to keep doing what they do so well.”
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 first 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 and eight increased, compared to the 2011 fourth quarter survey. The national survey quarter-to-quarter comparison shows 13 increased and 3 decreased.
In Arizona, off-the-shelf prices for sirloin roast showed the greatest decrease in price down 98cents to $4.85 a pound; bacon down 62 cents to $4.23 a pound; milk down 16 cents to $2.84 a gallon; shredded cheese down 10 cents to $4.58 a pound; vegetable oil down 9 cents to $2.51 for the 32 oz. bottle; eggs down 8 cents to $1.99 a dozen; white bread down 5 cents to $1.75 a 20-oz. loaf; and toasted oat cereal down 3 cent to $2.99 for the 8.9 oz. box.
Ground chuck showed the largest price increase up 53 cents to $3.83 a pound. The other items that increased in price were flour up 41cents to $2.54 for the 5-pound bag; deli ham up 35 cents to $5.11 a pound; boneless chicken breast up 23 cents to $3.66 a pound; apples up 11 cents to $ 1.44 a pound; salad mix up 8 cents to $2.63 for the 1-pound bag; russet potatoes up 4 cents to $2.83 for the 5-pound bag and orange juice up 3 cents to $3.01 a half gallon.
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 $50.79 Market Basket total would be $8.13.
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.