WASHINGTON, D.C. — Retail food prices at the supermarket increased slightly during the first quarter of 2012 with protein staples—meats and cheese—showing the greatest increase in price, according to the latest American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Marketbasket Survey.
The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $52.47, up $3.24 or about 7 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. Of the 16 items surveyed, 13 increased and three decreased in average price compared to the prior quarter. The cost for the overall basket of foods increased about 7 percent compared to one year ago.
About two-thirds of the quarter-to-quarter increase in the marketbasket of foods was due to higher retail prices for sliced deli ham, sirloin tip roast, ground chuck, bacon and cheddar cheese.
"Retail prices for meats and cheese were higher in the first quarter of the year due to generally strong demand and tight supplies, a situation that carried over from 2011," said John Anderson, an AFBF senior economist. "According to Agriculture Department data, retail meat prices probably peaked sometime in the first quarter, and wholesale prices have declined noticeably in recent weeks. This suggests that retail meat prices may decline as 2012 progresses."
Reversing a decline in the prior quarter, sliced deli ham increased 74 cents to $5.43 per pound; sirloin tip roast increased 60 cents to $4.75 per pound; ground chuck increased 36 cents to $3.53 per pound; shredded cheddar increased 33 cents to $4.65 per pound and bacon increased 16 cents to $4.21 per pound.
Other items that increased in price compared to the fourth quarter of last year were bagged salad, up 37 cents to $2.85 per pound; flour, up 27 cents to $2.65 for a 5-pound bag; Russet potatoes, up 26 cents to $3.01 for a 5-pound bag; orange juice, up 19 cents to $3.36 for a half-gallon; apples, up 19 cents to $1.59 per pound; toasted oat cereal, up 6 cents to $3.13 for a 9-ounce box; large eggs, up 5 cents to $1.77 per dozen; and vegetable oil, up 1 cent to $2.97 for a 32-ounce bottle.
Whole milk decreased 23 cents to $3.53 per gallon; white bread decreased 7 cents to $1.85 for a 20-ounce loaf and boneless chicken breasts decreased 5 cents to $3.19 per pound.
Several items showing an increase in retail price from quarter-to-quarter also showed year-to-year increases. Compared to one year ago sirloin tip roast increased 20 percent, ground chuck increased 14 percent and sliced deli ham increased 11 percent.