Lower retail prices for several foods, including whole milk, cheddar cheese, bacon and apples resulted in a slight decrease in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Fall Harvest Marketbasket Survey.
The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $54.14, down $.12 or less than 1 percent compared to a survey conducted a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, 10 decreased and six increased in average price.
Higher milk and pork production this year has contributed to the decrease in prices on some key foods.
“Energy prices, which affect everything in the marketbasket, have been quite a bit lower compared to a year ago. Processing, packaging, transportation and retail operations are all fairly energy-intensive,” said John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist. Lower energy prices account for much of the modest decrease in the marketbasket.
The following items showed retail price decreases from a year ago:
- whole milk, down 17 percent to $3.14 per gallon
- bacon, down 11 percent to $4.55 per pound
- apples, down 7 percent $1.45 per pound
- shredded cheddar, down 5 percent to $4.56 per pound
- flour, down 4 percent to $2.37 per five-pound bag
- bagged salad, down 4 percent to $2.46 per pound
- vegetable oil, down 3 percent to $2.61 for a 32-ounce bottle
- Russet potatoes, down 3 percent to $2.64 for a five-pound bag
- white bread, down 1 percent to $1.69 for a 20-ounce loaf
- chicken breast, down 1 percent to $3.42 per pound
These items showed modest retail price increases compared to a year ago:
- eggs, up 56 percent to $3.04 per dozen
- orange juice, up 7 percent to $3.43 per half-gallon
- ground chuck, up 6 percent to $4.55 per pound
- toasted oat cereal, up 3 percent to $3.09 for a nine-ounce box
- sirloin tip roast, up 3 percent to $5.67 per pound
- sliced deli ham, up 1 percent to $5.47 per pound
“As expected we saw higher egg prices because we lost so much production earlier this year due to the avian influenza situation in Iowa, Minnesota and some other Midwestern states,” Anderson said.
Price checks of alternative milk and egg choices not included in the overall marketbasket survey average revealed the following: 1/2 gallon regular milk, $2.21; 1/2 gallon organic milk, $4.79; and one dozen “cage-free” eggs, $4.16.
The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.
“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 16 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Anderson said.
Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this $54.14 marketbasket would be $8.66.
AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, began conducting informal quarterly marketbasket surveys of retail food price trends in 1989. The series includes a Spring Picnic survey, Summer Cookout survey, Fall Harvest survey and Thanksgiving survey.
According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world. A total of 69 shoppers in 24 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in September.