The latest American Farm Bureau Federation Marketbasket Survey indicates that retail food prices at the supermarket decreased for the fifth consecutive quarter and are significantly lower than one year ago. 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% 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.
Farm Bureau economist Stephanie Gambrell, points out that the foods that declined the most in average retail price are among the least-processed items in our Marketbasket. Russet potatoes, shredded cheddar cheese, deli ham, flour, bacon and boneless chicken breasts declined the most. The 2009 U.S. potato harvest set a yield record for the sixth consecutive year and as a result, processors paid lower wholesale prices to potato farmers, which in turn benefited consumers as grocers dropped retail prices.
Four foods did go up slightly in price compared to the prior quarter. Milk was up 17 cents to $3.04 per gallon; and eggs were up 11 cents to $1.55 per dozen. At the same time white bread was up 6 cents to $1.82 for a 20-oz. loaf; and ground chuck was up 4 cents to $2.69 per pound. Farm Bureau reports today's farm receives just 19% of the consumer food dollar or $8.15 cents of the $42.90 marketbasket.
Also, for comparison, the average price for a half-gallon of rBST-free milk was $3.08, down 24 cents from the last quarter and about 55% higher than the reported retail price for a half-gallon of regular milk at $1.99. Also, the average price for a half-gallon of organic milk was $3.57, down 20 cents compared to the third quarter – about 80% higher than the reported retail price for a half-gallon of regular milk.