Egg, dairy, chicken, beef prices all down

Farmer share of consumer retail food expenditures continues to decline.

Lower retail prices for several foods, including eggs, whole milk, cheddar cheese, chicken breast, sirloin tip roast and ground chuck, resulted in a decrease in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) "Fall Harvest Marketbasket Survey."

The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $49.70, down $4.40, or 8%, compared to a survey conducted a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, 13 decreased and three increased in average price.

Egg prices dropped significantly due to production recovering well from the 2014 avian influenza outbreak, according to John Newton, AFBF director, market intelligence. Milk prices are down substantially from prior years, particularly compared to record-high levels in 2014 due to the current global dairy surplus.

“For all commodities in agriculture, there is a lot of product on hand, and prices are depressed,” Newton explained.

The following items showed retail price decreases from a year ago:

  • Eggs, down 51% to $1.48/doz.
  • Chicken breast, down 16% to $2.86/lb.
  • Sirloin tip roast, down 11% to $5.04/lb.
  • Shredded cheddar, down 10%  to $4.09/lb.
  • Whole milk, down 10% to $2.84/gal.
  • Ground chuck, down 9% to $4.13/lb.
  • Toasted oat cereal, down 9% to $2.80 for a 9 oz. box.
  • Vegetable oil, down 9% to $2.39 for a 32 oz. bottle.
  • Flour, down 7% to $2.21 per 5 lb. bag.
  • White bread, down 7% to $1.58 for a 20 oz. loaf.
  • Orange juice, down 5% to $3.26 per half-gallon.
  • Bacon, down 3% to $4.40/lb.
  • Sliced deli ham, down less than 1% to $5.45/lb.

These items showed moderate retail price increases compared to a year ago:

  • Bagged salad, up 16% to $2.85/lb.
  • Apples, up 10% to $1.59/lb.
  • Potatoes, up 3% to $2.73 for a 5 lb. bag.

“Dry conditions in the Northeast and Northwest the last few years likely contributed to smaller supplies and higher retail prices for apples,” Newton said. Additionally, he said salad prices are up due to lower output in the West, particularly in California and Arizona.

Price checks of alternative milk and egg choices not included in the overall marketbasket survey average revealed the following: regular milk, $1.86 per half-gallon; organic milk, $4.26 per half-gallon, and cage-free eggs, $3.48/doz.

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.

“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 17%, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Newton said.

Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this $49.70 marketbasket would be approximately $8.45.

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