Arizona food prices: Meat up, milk down - East Valley Tribune: Arizona

Arizona food prices: Meat up, milk down

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Posted: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 11:50 am | Updated: 1:37 pm, Fri Apr 8, 2011.

The higher costs of filling your tank are now affecting the cost of filling your tummy.

The latest “market basket” price survey Wednesday from the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation shows the cost of the select group of items is up about 5.3 percent from the last quarter of 2010. Julie Murphree, the organization’s public relations and marketing director, said that was expected after several quarters of declines.

But Murphree said that, all things considered, the figures for the first quarter of the year aren’t so bad. She said the year-over-year increase is only slightly more than 4 percent.

And Murphree said estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture are predicting that prices will rise only 3 to 4 percent for all of 2011.

She said farmers and ranchers are particularly sensitive to price changes in fuel for planting and harvesting. Her organization figures that costs in this area alone have risen 27 percent in the past year.

But not everything is affected equally.

The biggest price hikes appear to be in red meats. And bacon in particular has become dearer, rising a whopping 30 percent to an average of $4.79 a pound.

Murphree said two factors are at work.

First, when costs of keeping and feeding livestock rose, some farmers thinned out their herds. And now, she said, there is an increasing demand for meat worldwide, driving up prices.

Prices for chicken, however, appear stable. And milk prices in Arizona have dropped.

The survey is not a scientific comparison but is based on the prices that Farm Bureau workers can find for the selected items at stores around Arizona. The survey is based on the lowest in-store prices but does not include promotional coupons or special deals.

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