Meats and Cheese Drive Slight Increase in Retail Food Prices
Washington--Retail food prices at the supermarket increased slightly during the first quarter of 2012 with protein staples—meats and cheese—showing the greatest increase in price, according to the latest American Farm Bureau Federation Marketbasket Survey.
The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $52.47, up $3.24 or about 7 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. Of the 16 items surveyed, 13 increased and three decreased in average price compared to the prior quarter. The cost for the overall basket of foods increased about 7 percent compared to one year ago.
About two-thirds of the quarter-to-quarter increase in the marketbasket of foods was due to higher retail prices for sliced deli ham, sirloin tip roast, ground chuck, bacon and cheddar cheese.
“Retail prices for meats and cheese were higher in the first quarter of the year due to generally strong demand and tight supplies, a situation that carried over from 2011,” said John Anderson, an AFBF senior economist. “According to Agriculture Department data, retail meat prices probably peaked sometime in the first quarter, and wholesale prices have declined noticeably in recent weeks. This suggests that retail meat prices may decline as 2012 progresses.”