Survey: Ariz. food costs drop just a bit
PHOENIX — Trying to save money on food?
You might want to consider the “other white meat.”
Peggy Jo Goodfellow of the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation said the drought in the Midwest and the resultant shortage of animal feed has driven up the cost of beef being sold in Arizona markets. In some cases the increases are significant, with the cost of a pound of sirloin top roast in the last quarter of 2012 up more than 10 percent from the prior quarter.
There's a similar sharp increase in the price of ground chuck, another of the market basket of typical items the Farm Bureau uses for its quarterly price survey.
But shoppers are paying less for bacon.
The reason, Goodfellow said, is Arizona has its own fairly substantial pork industry. And the producers here have not been subject to the price hikes for feed that have afflicted their Midwest counterparts.
Despite the higher prices for beef, chicken and milk, Goodfellow said the overall survey produced no real surprises. “Prices have been fairly stable.”
In fact, the $50.54 tab for the 16 items that the Farm Bureau prices is actually slightly less than the same time a year earlier.
Goodfellow also said that lower prices may be on the horizon.
She said the cost of fuel to run everything from tractors to the trucks that deliver groceries to the market make up a big share of what consumers pay. Goodfellow said she expects the lower fuel prices now to translate into savings in April or May.
In Yuma County, however, some families are still struggling in spite of falling food prices in the state.
“Families are still struggling and trying to make the food dollar stretch,” said Myra Garlit, executive director of Crossroads Missions.
Some might think the nonprofit organization helps only the homeless and unemployed, but many of the 122,000 meals the organization serves every year go to families who do work and have a home but still have trouble putting food on the table.
“We're not limited to the homeless,” Garlit said.
She pointed out a particular family with a working parent that turns to the organization for help to make it through the month. This is typical of what she sees at the end of every month, when food requests increase.
Crossroads isn't a food bank but it does help by providing meals. People are always welcome to walk in for a meal, she noted.
“And we're not tough on having to prove you have a need,” Garlit said. “I do think it is a hard time. We're seeing people really in need.”
The Farm Bureau's quarterly survey is based on what federation shoppers found at markets around the state. Goodfellow said the prices do not reflect use of coupons or the affinity cards that many supermarket chains provide which give holders additional discounts.
Yuma Sun staff writer Mara Knaub contributed to this story.
Market basket of 16 selected basic items:
2012 4th qtr -- $50.54
2012 3rd qtr -- $49.25
2012 2nd qtr -- $51.19
2012 1st qtr -- $50.79
2011 4th qtr -- $51.39
2011 3rd qtr -- $50.71
2011 2nd qtr -- $51.31
2011 1st qtr -- $47.85
2010 4th qtr -- $45.44
2010 3rd qtr -- $46.48
2010 2nd qtr -- $48.84
2010 1st qtr -- $45.96
2009 4th qtr -- $45.89
2009 3rd qtr -- $46.02
2009 2nd qtr -- $50.89
2009 1st qtr -- $54.43