Food prices up from a year ago

Food prices up from a year ago

Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture
Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture

Pork getting expensive?

Blame the Chinese.

That’s not the official position of the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation which on Tuesday reported its quarterly prices of a typical market basket of items.

But the organization’s Julie Murphree said the fact remains that the swine flu is killing large numbers of pigs in China even as pork remains the most popular meat there.

And yes, she said, it is true that the trade dispute between China and the United States is resulting in that country looking elsewhere for its pigs. But Murphree said that demand remains high and that’s going to force China to keep buying what is produced here.

“It’s kind of the global market,” she said.

The result shows up when Arizonans go shopping.

A year ago a pound of sliced deli ham was selling for an average of $3.38 at the stores sampled by Farm Bureau staffers and volunteers. The most recent survey puts the price tag at $5.36, a whopping 58 percent increase.

Bacon also is becoming more dear, with shoppers finding the average price a $6.17 a pound, up nearly 32 percent from a year ago.

Those big increases, coupled with higher prices on beef, sent the cost of the 16 items sampled up to $52.29, 13 percent higher than the same time last year.

Still, Murphree said it could be worse.

She said Arizona benefits from a highly competitive grocery market, with many major players competing for shoppers’ dollars. Murphree said residents of many other states have more limited choices.

The prices reflect what Farm Bureau shoppers found at grocery stores around the state who took advantage of advertised sales when available. But it does not include other discounts some stores make available to those who have “affinity” cards connected to the chain.