Arizona retail food prices at the supermarket are up again in the second 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 $51.31, up $3.46 or about 7% higher than the first quarter of 2011. Comparatively, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s national survey was $51.17, up $2.10 cents or 4% higher compared to the first quarter of 2011.
The Arizona second quarter Market Basket is up $2.47 or 5% compared to one year ago at this time.
“Despite some recent relief in the cost of oil, the impact of continued raw energy cost increases are reverberating throughout the food industry and consumers and farmers are bearing the brunt of it,” said Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau Public Relations, Marketing and Education Director. “As the cost to produce our food continues to run up, shoppers are feeling the pinch at the supermarket.”
Moving forward, energy prices are expected to continue to rise as an improving global economy stimulates demand.
“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. Boelts, who said the cost for refueling one large tillage tractor can be more than $600, explained that labor and energy are the two operating costs that must be controlled.
Despite the inflationary period Arizona families find themselves in, Murphree suggests that deals are to be found at the local grocery store. “Another valuable strategy is to cook more meals at home,” she says. “Especially during the summer we have more opportunities to cook as a family. In fact, Arizona Farm Bureau has designed our Fill Your Plate website to help families stretch their food dollars.”
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, 11 increased, four decreased and one item remained the same compared to the 2011 first quarter survey. The national survey shows 14 increased and two decreased.
In Arizona, off-the-shelf prices for ground chuck showed the greatest decrease in price down 24 cents to $3.48 a pound; flour down 17 cents to $2.07 for the 5- pound bag; white bread down 12 cents to $1.54 a 20-oz loaf; and bagged salad down 2 cents to $2.79 a pound..
Shredded cheese showed the largest price increase up 62 cents to $4.99 a pound. The other items that increased in price were sirloin tip roast up 54 cents to $5.57 a pound; boneless chicken up 47 cents to $3.70 a pound; a 32-oz bottle of vegetable oil up 46 cents to $2.69; milk up 45 cents to $2.49 a gallon; toasted oat cereal up 40 cents to $ 3.25 for the 8.9-oz box; a 5-pound bag of russet potatoes up 38 cents to $2.99; eggs up 29 cents to $1.88 a dozen; orange juice up 20 cents to $3.04 a half gallon; sliced deli ham up16 cents to $4.71 a pound and red delicious apples up 4 cents to $1.33 a pound.
The year-to-year direction of the market basket 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 over time 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 $51.31 Market Basket total would be $8.21.
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.