Policy & Politics
Staple Food Prices Trend Down for 5th Straight Quarter
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 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 benefited consumers as grocers dropped retail prices,” said Stefphanie Gambrell, AFBF economist. “Sluggish consumer demand, particularly for meats and dairy products, also played a role in the lower retail grocery prices reported this quarter.”
Compared to one year ago, none of the items in the survey increased in retail price.