Food prices drop for first time this year in Arizona - East Valley Tribune: Arizona

Food prices drop for first time this year in Arizona

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Posted: Monday, October 11, 2010 1:59 pm | Updated: 4:14 pm, Tue Oct 12, 2010.

It may not be enough to notice.

But food prices in Arizona have slipped for the first time this year.

A new survey of prices by the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation shows its "market basket" of 16 basic items has dropped to $46.48. That compares with $48.84 for the same period three months earlier.

But it remains higher than last year.

A couple of items appear to be helping drive down the costs. Topping that list is sliced deli ham, where the cost has dropped by more than 20 percent. Peggy Jo Goodfellow, a spokeswoman for the organization, said that may simply be a marketing decision.

"It could be that our pork industry has decided to run some specials to get interest back on buying ham," she said.

Goodfellow, who also is one of the survey takers who goes around to area supermarkets, also found a big drop in the price of flour. Here, too, she said, the sharp price drop appears to be a conscious decision.

"They're trying to generate interest," she said of the producers, possibly due to supply exceeding demand.

And Goodfellow said that push to convince consumers to buy flour is not limited to lowering the price.

"I noticed some of the stores even had on the shelves a little holder and it had recipe cards," she said. Goodfellow said that is designed to convince shoppers that they can, in fact, make their own items rather than "the processed items from the bakery."

The price of milk, which had taken a jump in the second quarter, slid back somewhat.

Goodfellow has said repeatedly that the cost of this perishable product is very volatile: The cows continue to produce the same amount, with farmers and producers having to adjust their prices to sell their products in the face of rising or falling consumer demand.

And milk prices in Arizona remain below the national average.

The Farm Bureau Federation says only a small share of what shoppers pay can be attributed to what farmers earn. The organization said that, out of the $46.48 price on this particular market basket, only $8.83 wound up in the pocket of farmers.

The balance is due to costs ranging from transportation to processing.



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