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2009-07-09 digital edition

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2009-07-09 / General Stories

Grocery Prices Showing a Downward Trend

Attention Texas grocery store shoppers! Food prices are falling on aisles all across the Lone Star State, according to the latest results from Texas Farm Bureau's Grocery Price Watch.

"Texas families are keeping a close eye on every expense, so they should find it easier to stay within their budgets," said Texas Farm Bureau President Kenneth Dierschke, a San Angelo farmer.

Launched earlier this year by the state's largest farm organization, the Grocery Price Watch is an informal survey that evaluates 16 staple grocery items at various supermarkets across the Lone Star State.

Twenty-five volunteer shoppers participated in the latest survey, who conducted their price checks during the week of June 21-27.

Survey results showed that nine of 16 items decreased in price over the last quarter. The total list of items, on average, fell roughly 1.42 percent (74 cents), from $51.97 in April to $51.23 in June.

Dierschke noted that economists are predicting that grocery prices will increase by as much as 4 percent during the course of 2009, according to a recent analysis by the Agriculture Department.

For now, it seems, consumers are not seeing those increases in Texas.

The largest average price declines this quarter came in head lettuce, down 14 percent (17 cents) to $1.03; bread, down nearly 12 percent (30 cents) to $2.30 a loaf; and long grain rice, down 7 percent (8 cents) to $1.01 per 16- ounce bag.

Other items decreasing in average cost this quarter included: cheddar cheese, down 28 cents to $4.69 per one-pound block; ice cream, down 22 cents to $5.46 per half gallon; turkey sandwich meat, down 22 cents to $4.57 per 16- ounce package; milk, down 16 cents to $3.69 per gallon; lean ground beef, down 7 cents to $2.79 per pound; and skinless chicken breasts, down 4 cents to $3.11 per pound.

Showing average price increases during the last three months were grapefruit, up nearly 21 percent (16 cents) to 93 cents per pound; tomatoes, up 11 percent (17 cents) to $1.68 per pound; dried pinto beans, up 6 percent (22 cents) to $3.90 per 64- ounce bag; corn flakes, up 4 percent (12 cents) to $3.20 per 18- ounce box; T-bone steaks, up 2 percent (14 cents) to $8.28 per pound; and pork chops, up 1 percent (5 cents) to $3.48 per pound.

The average cost of a package of cake mix remained unchanged over the last three months at $1.17.

The quarterly survey also notes the price spread shoppers pay at different stores across the state. The most expensive sales receipt for all 16 items rang in at $61.29, which is $1.84 more than the highest price paid in April.

The least expensive sales receipt for all items this quarter came to $40.85, meaning the cost of the same basketful of groceries varied by more than $20, depending on where shoppers live and choose to buy groceries.

But those cost differences aren't due to the men and women who grow the food that winds up on store shelves, President Dierschke stressed.

"The raw commodity portion of this food basket amounts to roughly 19 cents on every dollar spent on food, according to the latest Agriculture Department analysis. That means farmers, on average, received a little more than $9 on the $51.23 spent for these 16 food items," he said. "But often when considering commodity prices and expenses, the farmer earns far less."

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