State survey shows drop in food prices - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

State survey shows drop in food prices

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Posted: Monday, June 15, 2009 4:02 pm | Updated: 1:26 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Arizonans planning to celebrate Father’s Day this Sunday with a full-fledged barbecue outing can do so for a little less money this year.

The cost of food for that meal has declined about 3.5 percent from a year ago, according to a survey of food prices by the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation.

“What it shows is that (lower) commodity prices are now showing up at the retail level,” said Peggy Jo Goodfellow, the federation’s marketing manager, who organized the survey.

She said declines in the price of food at the farm level can take six to eight months to be reflected in prices at retail stores.

“Things like eggs and meat won’t take that long, but for any processed food item, it will take that long,” she said. “That’s why we’re seeing prices going down now.”

According to the bureau’s informal survey, a king-sized barbecue for a family of 10 — including hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad and more — will cost $50.38 this year, down from $52.23 last year.

The only items that went up in price were hamburger, baked beans and watermelon. Declines were recorded for hot dogs, potato salad, sliced cheese, baby peeled carrots, broccoli florets, tortilla chips, salsa, lemonade, milk, hot dog buns and hamburger buns. A group of condiments including ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise was unchanged.

The comparisons were made by shopping for the same items in identical quantities at the same four grocery stores in Maricopa County as last year, Goodfellow said.

The test shoppers identified the best in-store price and excluded promotional coupons and special deals to provide consistent price comparisons, she said.

An average of the four was calculated to determine the cost of the theoretical barbecue, she said.

But shoppers who want to duplicate the test might be able to find lower prices if they hunt for bargains.

Among ways grocery shoppers can save money are buying store-brand items, using coupons, shopping meat sales and buying fresh instead of processed items, said Sheila VanHofwegen, Maricopa County chair of the Women’s Leadership Committee of the farm bureau.

“The cost of food is where you can work the family budget,” she said.

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