Food Prices Leveling!
BY DIANE OLSON
2009 brought some good news for grocery shoppers! Following a year of rising food prices, consumers were pleased to see food prices dropping or at least not increasing.
The American Farm Bureau and state Farm Bureaus conduct a quarterly survey to track trends in food pricing. The same 16 items surveyed each time are representative of a cross section of agricultural commodities and can be utilized in preparing a variety of meals.
Missouri shoppers paid $42.47 for these items in the fourth quarter. This amount shows a drop of $3.47 from the third quarter price of $45.94. A year ago, fourth quarter 2008, those same prices were $49.54. This is a marked drop of $7.07 from year to year.
Price declines occurred in 11 items and increased for five. The greatest quarter-to-quarter price drops were noted in deli sliced ham, shredded cheddar cheese, bagged salad mix and boneless chicken breasts.
One gallon of whole milk dropped 21 cents from the third quarter to a price of $2.66. The same time last year, the average milk price was $3.62 per gallon.
Sluggish retail demand, particularly for dairy products and meats, coupled with lower wholesale prices paid to producers, contributed to the decline in retail food prices reported for the fourth quarter.
The Show Me state once again found prices for the list of items less than the national average of $42.90. The local savings was only 43 cents, however, Missouri shoppers typically experience food dollar savings compared to the nation’s prices.
Consumers paid less for many food items during the final quarter of 2009. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the average price farmers received for their products compared to a year ago, remained flat or showed negligible changes.
The farmer is the source of our food products. Prices in the grocery store are beyond their control, but they work every day to produce an abundant supply of food for all of us. Prices may increase and decrease, but it is important to be reminded of the farmer’s role in our safe and affordable food supply. So, as you shop and eat, be reminded to …thank a farmer.
Diane Olson, of Jefferson City, Mo., is Director of Promotion & Education for the Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization.
An editorial column from the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation, Cut to the Chase may be used as an op-ed piece or letter to the editor.