Strong production of eggs, pork, beef and dairy has resulted in lower retail prices in grocery stores.
That’s the finding of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Marketbasket survey that tracks the average cost of 16 food items used to prepare one or more meals. At $49, the items cost 8.2% less than a year ago and 1.4% less since March.
Milk, beef prices lower
“Strong global supplies have depressed the prices that Wisconsin farmers receive for the crops and livestock they raise,” says Casey Langan, spokesman for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. “Coupled with steady energy prices and softening demand from foreign countries, this means lower costs for grocery shoppers.”
Prices for 13 of the survey’s 16 items declined compared with the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s survey conducted last fall.
The decreasing price of eggs was the single-largest factor in lowering the survey’s average price.
One year ago, one dozen Grade A eggs averaged $2.94. That historically high price was a result of a tight egg market after avian influenza led to the death of millions of laying hens. Since then, egg producers have repopulated their flocks and increased egg production.
“The 98 cents per dozen that Wisconsin shoppers paid [on average] in September marks a return to normalcy for the egg market,” Langan says.
“The growing inventory of beef cattle has resulted in lower prices for consumers,” Langan adds. “The survey’s average price for a pound of ground chuck dropped from $4.74 to $3.99 [15.8%] during the past year.
“The same situation exists for pork prices. Since last fall, 1 pound of bacon dropped more than 6% [from $4.51 to $4.22 per pound], while 1 pound of sliced deli ham decreased more than 4% [from $5.36 to $5.11] in price."
An oversupply of milk globally has had a dampening effect on the price Wisconsin dairy farmers receive for their milk. It's the lowest since 2009. The reduced price has been passed on to the consumer. Shredded mild cheddar cheese decreased by 5.3% (from $4.30 to $4.07 per pound) during the past year. Likewise, a gallon of whole milk dropped by 15 cents (from $3.47 to $3.32), or 4.3%, during that time period.
Bagged salad is the only item on the survey that has consistently increased in price during the past year. The average for a 1-pound bag was $2.46 last fall, $2.55 last spring and $2.78 in the most recent survey. Dry conditions in lettuce-growing regions have resulted in reduced crops, which impacts price.
Similar production shortfalls of apples and potatoes caused prices to increase at the state and national levels.
Wisconsin’s $49 Marketbasket average price is 70 cents less than the American Farm Bureau Federation’s national survey of the same 16 food items. AFBF’s survey averaged $49.70, a 1.4% difference.
Farmers' share weakens
During the last three decades, retail grocery prices have gradually increased while the share of the average dollar spent on food that farm families receive has decreased. In the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures in grocery stores and restaurants. That figure has decreased steadily and is now about 16%, according to USDA. Using that percentage across the board, the farmer’s share of this quarter’s $49 grocery bill is $7.84.
USDA says Americans will spend approximately 10% of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average in the world.
CHEAPER GROCERIES: Wisconsin Farm Bureau's $49 Marketbasket average price is 70 cents less than the American Farm Bureau Federation’s national survey of the same 16 food items. AFBF’s survey averaged $49.70, a 1.4% difference.