Retail food prices on the decline

by Staff
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WASHINGTON — Food prices at grocery stores and supermarkets were down about 2% in the second quarter of 2009, marking the third consecutive quarter of declines, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation Marketbasket Survey.

"This quarter-to-quarter price decline reported by our volunteer shoppers indicates that consumers are seeing some relief at the grocery store," said Jim Sartwelle, an economist at the A.F.B.F. "Even more significant is that average retail prices for eggs, milk, chicken breasts and bacon for the second quarter of 2009 are significantly lower than one year ago."

The survey specifically found the cost of 16 food items that may be used to prepare a meal was $46.29, which was down $1.12, or about 2%, from the first quarter of 2009. Ten of the 16 surveyed items decreased in price, five increased and one remained the same. Russet potatoes, boneless chicken breasts, eggs, sliced deli ham and whole milk declined the most. Other items that were down included ground chuck, sirloin tip roast, flour, bacon and toasted oat cereal. Foods that increased in the quarter included bagged salad, shredded cheddar cheese, apples, vegetable oil and orange juice. White bread remained the same in price.

"The foods that declined the most in retail price are among the least-processed items in our marketbasket," Mr. Sartwelle said. "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."

The average prices for these foods decreased $3.10, or about 6%, during the past year with retail eggs, milk, chicken and bacon leading the way in the decline.

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