Grocery shoppers finding higher meat, dairy prices

Published on: Oct 14, 2013

Shoppers are paying slightly more for food items at the grocery store compared to the first half of 2013. Higher retail prices for meat items such as boneless chicken breasts and dairy products, among other foods, resulted in a slight increase in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s latest Semi-Annual Marketbasket Survey.

The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $53.20, up $1.66 or about 3% compared to a survey conducted about six months ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, 11 increased and five decreased in average price.

“Several poultry and dairy product items increased in price during the second half of the year, accounting for much of the increase in the marketbasket,” said John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist. “As anticipated, food prices have increased by about 3% so far during the year, which is slightly higher than the average rate of inflation over the past 10 years,” he said.

Items showing retail price increases included chicken breasts, up 61 cents to $3.93 per pound; Russet potatoes, up 49 cents to $3.18 for a 5-pound bag; bacon, up 43 cents to $4.71 per pound; whole milk, up 25 cents to $3.71 per gallon; vegetable oil, up 20 cents to $3.12 for a 32-ounce bottle; orange juice, up 19 cents to $3.47 per half-gallon; white bread, up 18 cents to $1.83 for a 20-ounce loaf; toasted oat cereal, up 18 cents to $3.09 for a 9-ounce box; bagged salad, up 12 cents to $2.83 per pound; shredded cheddar cheese, up 4 cents to $4.51 per pound; and flour, up 4 cents to $2.66 for a 5-pound bag.

These items showed modest retail price decreases: deli ham, down 68 cents to $4.71 per pound; sirloin tip roast, down 28 cents to $4.35 per pound; ground chuck, down 5 cents to $3.69 per pound; apples, down 4 cents to $1.59 per pound; and eggs, down 2 cents to $1.82 per dozen.

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index (http://www.bls.gov/cpi/) 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%, 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 $53.20 marketbasket would be $8.51.

AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, conducted an informal quarterly marketbasket survey of retail food price trends from 1989 to 2012. In 2013, the marketbasket series was updated to include two semi-annual surveys of “everyday” food items, a summer cookout survey and the annual Thanksgiving survey.

According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10% of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world. A total of 79 shoppers in 25 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in September.