Nationwide, Food Prices Trending Down

Retail food prices at the supermarket decreased slightly for the third consecutive quarter, according to a recent American Farm Bureau Federation Marketbasket Survey. The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare a meal was $46.29, down about 2% or $1.12 from the first quarter of 2009. Of the 16 items surveyed, 10 decreased, five increased and one remained the same in average price compared to the prior quarter.


Russet potatoes, boneless chicken breasts, eggs, sliced deli ham and whole milk declined the most in price and together account for most of the decrease in average price of the overall marketbasket. Russet potatoes dropped 29 cents to $2.76 for a 5-pound bag; chicken breasts dropped 28 cents to $3.10 per pound; eggs decreased 16 cents to $1.34 per dozen; sliced deli ham and whole milk dropped 14 cents to $4.80 per pound and $3.01 per gallon, respectively.

“The foods that declined the most in retail price are among the least-processed items in our marketbasket. When wholesale prices paid to producers for minimally processed foods such as these decrease drastically, as has been the case over the past few months, consumers typically benefit fairly quickly from retail price reductions in the grocer’s case,” said AFBF Economist Jim Sartwelle.
Several items went up slightly in price compared to the prior quarter: bagged salad, up 13 cents to $2.75 for a 1-pound bag; shredded cheddar cheese, up 7 cents to $4.31 for one pound; apples, up 6 cents to $1.41 per pound; vegetable oil, up 6 cents to $2.85 for a 32-oz. bottle; and orange juice, up 2 cents to $3.02 for a half-gallon. A 20-oz. loaf of white bread remained the same in price, $1.77.

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 82 shoppers in 33 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in May.

Source: American Farm Bureau Federation press release