2010 is becoming a memory as another year is underway. Now, the final boxes of decorations are in storage, waiting for Christmas 2011. The house is purged of those wonderful high-calorie holiday foods. Promises to lose pounds accumulated over the past few weeks are in place. 2010 is now history!
Oh, but not so fast, the fourth quarter Marketbasket Survey was just released. A quick glance reveals food prices for the items surveyed each quarter up slightly over third quarter prices, $47.87 compared to $47.49, an increase of $0.38. The real news comes when comparing food costs to the same quarter of 2009 when the total was $42.78, revealing a price increase of $5.09.
Each quarter, prices for 16 food items representative of a cross-section of agriculture are gathered from grocery stores throughout the state. They are averaged and forwarded for inclusion in the national report issued by the American Farm Bureau. Missouri prices rang in slightly higher than the national average of $46.97, a 90-cent difference this quarter.
The most notable increases occurred in livestock related foods – eggs, poultry, ground chuck, bacon and milk. Bacon increased $0.35 per pound to $3.60 in Missouri with the national average being $4.32. Missouri egg prices per dozen increased $0.06 to $1.29 compared to the national average of $1.60. A gallon of whole milk in Missouri increased over last quarter by $0.20 to $3.24 compared to a year ago when a gallon of milk was available for $2.66. However, it was still less than the national average of $3.35 per gallon.
Prices fluctuate from time-to-time for a variety of reasons. Currently, demands for beef and pork remain strong in foreign markets while the United States experiences historically lower production. Production costs, however, are higher. These factors influence the price at the supermarket and restaurant.
Overall, retail food prices have been relatively stable in 2010. Following near record prices in 2008, prices in 2009 and 2010 were welcomed in comparison. Moving forward, USDA forecasts a 2-to-3 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for all food in 2011.