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2009-10-01 digital edition

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2009-10-01 / General Stories

Grocery Prices Continue Downward Trend in Texas

Texas grocery shoppers continue to collect on savings in 2009, according to the latest results from Texas Farm Bureau's Grocery Price Watch.

Food prices in the third quarter of the year rang in at an average of $50.46, which is 75 cents or 2 percent cheaper than the same16 pantry staples cost three months ago in the Lone Star State.

"While savings at the grocery aisle do indeed benefit all of us in Texas, I believe it is also important to note that these lower food prices are coming at a time of great difficulty for many farmers and ranchers in the Lone Star State," said Texas Farm Bureau President Kenneth Dierschke, a San Angelo cotton producer.

"Many farmers and ranchers, particularly those in South Texas, are struggling with drought conditions," he said. "Our prices have dropped off by as much as half of what we earned for the same products last year. And just like those who climb into a car to go to work each day instead of a tractor, we've felt the pains of our current economic climate."

While many factors go into the price of food-most notably transportation, packaging and manpower costs-the farmer earns just 9 percent of each food dollar spent, according to the latest Agriculture Department analysis.

"That means most of the money spent on food lands a lot of other places besides the wallets of those who grow what we eat,"

Dierschke said. "Of the current $50.46 spent to buy the 16 items on our list, farmers earn just $4.50."

The current survey was conducted during the week of Sept. 6- 12 by 25 volunteer shoppers across the state.

Boneless pork chops and fresh tomatoes saw the largest decline in prices this quarter, with costs falling 44 cents to $3.04 per pound for pork chops and tomatoes dropping 32 cents to $1.36 per pound.

Lean ground beef was also down by 19 cents to $2.60 per pound, as were the prices of dry pinto beans, down 15 cents to $3.75 per four-pound bag; bread, down 10 cents to $2.20 per 24- ounce loaf; milk, down a nickel to $3.64 per gallon; and corn flakes, down 2 cents to $3.18 per 18- ounce box.

The largest increase in cost this quarter came with the purchase of sliced turkey, up 29 cents to $4.86 per 16-ounce package, followed closely by sliced cheese, up 26 cents to $4.95 per 16-ounce package.

Other items increasing in cost were rice, up 11 cents to $1.12 per one-pound bag; cake mix, up 11 cents to $1.28 per box; grapefruit, up 9 cents to $1.02 per pound; boneless, skinless chicken breasts, up 6 cents to $3.17 per pound; porterhouse steak, up a nickel to $8.33 per pound; lettuce, up 4 cents to $1.07 a head; and ice cream, up 3 cents to $5.49 per half gallon.

Current prices are 3 percent down-about $1.50-from the first quarter of the year, when the state's largest farm organization launched its informal quarterly survey of Texas food prices.

As in previous surveys, however, those savings may not always be realized by shoppers, as individual items can fluctuate in price greatly from store to store.

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