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Arizona food prices inch up, led by spike in meat costs

CIf you want red meat in your diet, be prepared to pay more.

The latest survey done by the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation shows the cost of a typical market basket of items hit $52.64 in the quarter just ended. That’s up just slightly from the prior quarter.

But that figure is close to 10 percent higher than the same time a year earlier. And if you want to know why, you need look no further than the meat counter.

Consider: Last year you could buy a pound of ground chuck for $3.52. This year, it costs 15 percent more. And that $5.69-a-pound sirloin tip roast available last year now is running $6.45.

It’s not just the beef that is ringing up higher. Deli ham spiked by 90 cents a pound in the last year, up to $4.59. And even boneless chicken breasts are much dearer, hitting $4.41 a pound.

Julie Murphree, the organization’s spokeswoman, said all those changes are related to beef and, more specifically, to the fact there’s less of it to go around.

“Certain regions of the country were experiencing drought,” she said, making feed more expensive. “They had to pull back on their herds.”

And Murphree said it’s hard for ranchers to react to the market and the higher prices now available. She said that’s because it takes about two years to bring a calf to market. By contrast, chickens mature to the size for eating in a fraction of the time.

So why, then, has the price of chicken gone through the roof?

Murphree said that probably comes down to the question of supply and demand: As the price for beef goes up, shoppers turn to other sources of protein.

Meat isn’t the only thing that is more expensive now than a year ago.

Eggs are more expensive, as is cheese. But it’s now cheaper to buy milk.

The quarterly survey is based on what federation shoppers found at markets around the state. These prices do not reflect use of coupons or the affinity cards that many supermarket chains provide which give holders additional discounts.



2nd qtr 2014

1st qtr 2014

Red delicious apples (pound)



Russet potatoes (5 pounds)



Ground chuck (pound)



Sirloin tip roast (pound)



Sliced deli ham (pound)



Bacon (pound)



Boneless chicken breasts (pound)



Whole milk (gallon)



Shredded mild cheddar cheese (pound)



Grade A eggs (dozen)



All-purpose flour (5 pounds)



Orange juice (1/2 gallon)



Vegetable oil (quart)



American salad mix (pound)



Toasted oat cereal (8.9 ounce box)



White bread (20 ounce)



— Source: Arizona Farm Bureau Federation


Market basket of 16 selected basic items:
2014 2nd qtr — $52.64
2014 1st qtr — $52.40
2013 4th qtr — $51.62
2013 3rd qtr — $50.87
2013 2nd qtr — $47.97
2013 1st qtr — $49.75
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
(all figures in actual dollars at the time, not adjusted for inflation)
— Source: Arizona Farm Bureau Federation

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