Shoppers paid slightly more for food at the grocery store during the third quarter of the year, with many popular breakfast staples showing an increase in retail price. Higher retail prices for eggs, bacon, orange juice, milk and toasted oat cereal, among other foods, resulted in a slight increase in the latest American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Quarterly Marketbasket Survey.
The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $51.90, up $1.00 or about 2 percent compared to the second quarter of 2012. Of the 16 items surveyed, 9 increased and 7 decreased in average price compared to the prior quarter. The cost for the overall basket of foods decreased about 2 percent compared to one year ago.
Most of the slight quarter-to-quarter increase in the marketbasket of foods can be attributed to higher retail prices for breakfast staples, apples and bagged salad.
“While prices were up from the second quarter, compared to a year ago, the marketbasket price was actually lower, by about 2 percent,” said John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist. “For most of this year, food prices have been relatively stable. This is consistent with the very slow but steady growth in the general economy that has been seen throughout the year, along with fairly stable energy prices.”
Items showing retail price increases for the third quarter included apples, up 36 cents to $1.86 per pound; large eggs, up 33 cents to $1.94 per dozen; bagged salad, up 20 cents to $2.94 per pound; bacon, up 19 cents to $4.23 per pound; whole milk, up 19 cents to $3.55 for one gallon; orange juice up 13 cents to $3.30 for a half-gallon; boneless chicken breasts, up 8 cents to $3.17 per pound; sirloin tip roast, up 5 cents to $4.74 per pound; and toasted oat cereal, up 1 cent to $3.00 for a 9-ounce box.
These items showed modest retail price declines: ground chuck decreased 19 cents to $3.47 per pound; white bread decreased 13 cents to $1.75 for a 20-ounce loaf; vegetable oil, down 7 cents to $2.91 for a 32-ounce bottle; flour decreased 5 cents to $2.57 for a 5-pound bag; Russet potatoes decreased 5 cents to $3.01 for a 5-pound bag; sliced deli ham decreased 4 cents to $5.20 per pound; and shredded cheddar decreased 3 cents to $4.26 per pound.
Several items showing an increase in retail price from quarter-to-quarter also showed year-to-year increases: sirloin tip roast, up 11 percent; eggs, up 9 percent; bagged salad, up 8 percent; and apples, up 2 percent.
The year-to-year direction of the Marketbasket Survey tracks with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index (http://www.bls.gov/cpi/) report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.
“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 16 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Anderson said. Details about USDA’s new Food Dollar Series may be found online at http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err-economic-research-report/err114.aspx.
Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this quarter’s $51.90 marketbasket would be $8.30.
AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, has been conducting the informal quarterly Marketbasket Survey of retail food price trends since 1989. The mix of foods in the marketbasket was updated in 2008.
According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world. A total of 79 shoppers in 26 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in August.
Tracking Milk and Egg Trends
For the third quarter of 2012, shoppers reported the average price for a half-gallon of regular whole milk was $2.31, up 10 cents from the prior quarter. The average price for one gallon of regular whole milk was $3.54, up 18 cents. Comparing per-quart prices, the retail price for whole milk sold in gallon containers was about 25 percent lower compared to half-gallon containers, a typical volume discount long employed by retailers.
The average price for a half-gallon of rBST-free milk was $3.35, down 22 cents from the last quarter, about 40 percent higher than the reported retail price for a half-gallon of regular milk ($2.31).
The average price for a half-gallon of organic milk was $3.81, down 9 cents compared to the prior quarter, about 70 percent higher than the reported retail price for a half-gallon of regular milk ($2.31).
Compared to a year ago (third quarter of 2011), the retail price for regular milk in gallon containers declined about 3 percent, while regular milk in half-gallon containers declined 5 percent. The average retail price for rBST-free milk decreased 1 percent compared to the prior year, while organic milk declined 3 percent.
For the third quarter of 2012, the average price for one dozen regular eggs was $1.94, up 33 cents compared to the prior quarter. The average price for a dozen “cage-free” eggs was $3.22, down 7 cents compared to the prior quarter but nearly double (90 percent higher) the price of regular eggs. Compared to a year ago (third quarter of 2011), regular eggs increased 9 percent while “cage-free” eggs increased 4 percent.