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MADISON – Shoppers are seeing stable food prices at the grocery store according to the latest Wisconsin Farm Bureau Marketbasket Survey of 16 basic food items used to prepare one or more meals. It showed that the average cost of these items was $50.14. The average cost is $0.48 (or nearly one percent) higher than the same survey conducted last fall and $1.16 (or 2.4 percent) higher than a year ago. 

The survey items that saw the greatest price increases since last year were: one dozen, large, Grade A eggs; boneless chicken breast, ground chuck and Cheerios. 

“The item that saw that largest price increase was eggs,” said Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Director of Communications. “We are most likely seeing this increase due to an outbreak of avian influenza in South Korea, which has contributed to more American eggs being exported. As demand increases the price does as well.”

Overall, prices were stable compared to a year ago, with six of the survey’s 16 items being lower in price. 

An over-supply of milk continues to have a dampening effect on the price Wisconsin dairy farmers receive for their milk. The reduced price continues to be passed on to shoppers. The price of a gallon of whole milk dropped 8.9 percent (from $3.25 to $2.96) from last year’s survey. 

White bread and sliced deli ham also saw price decreases of $0.20 (or 11 percent) and $0.17 (or 3.3 percent), respectively, compared to last year.

State vs. national

Wisconsin’s $50.14 Marketbasket Survey is $0.91 less than the American Farm Bureau Federation’s national survey of the same 16 food items. AFBF’s survey rang in at $51.05 (1.8 percent difference).

Farmer's share

During the last three decades, retail grocery prices have gradually increased while the share of the average dollar spent on food that farm families receive has dropped. In the mid-1970s, farmers received about 33 percent of consumer retail food expenditures in grocery stores and restaurants. Since then that number has decreased steadily and is now about 16 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Using that percentage across the board, the farmer’s share of this quarter’s $50.14 grocery bill is $8.02.

The USDA says Americans will still spend approximately 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average in the world.

The Marketbasket Survey is a quarterly look at the trends in food pricing in Wisconsin in relation to changing farm prices, weather and wholesale and retail food marketing. In March, members of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau collected price samples of 16 basic food items in communities across Wisconsin.

National prices

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s Spring Picnic Marketbasket Survey showed the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $51.05, up $1.02 or 2 percent compared to a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, nine increased and seven decreased in average price.

Several foods showed modest retail price decreases from a year ago: whole milk, white bread, chicken breasts, toasted oat cereal, apples, potatoes and flour.

Milk decreased in price by 6 percent (20 cents per gallon) due to continued record production volumes in the United States and a very competitive beverage case.  

Retail price changes from a year ago:

  • eggs, up 37 percent to $1.80 per dozen
  • orange juice, up 8 percent to $3.46 per half-gallon
  • bagged salad, up 4 percent to $2.42 per pound
  • deli ham, up 3 percent to $5.59 per pound
  • vegetable oil, up 2 percent to $2.61 for a 32-ounce bottle
  • shredded cheddar cheese, up 2 percent to $4.20 per pound
  • ground chuck, up 2 percent to $4.01 per pound
  • bacon, up 2 percent to $4.75 per pound
  • sirloin tip roast, up 2 percent to $5.12 per pound
  • white bread, down 7 percent to $1.60 per 20-ounce loaf
  • whole milk, down 6 percent to $3.07 per gallon
  • chicken breast, down 2 percent to $3.10 per pound
  • toasted oat cereal, down 2 percent to $2.78 for a 9-ounce box
  • apples, down 1 percent to $1.53 per pound
  • flour, down less than 1 percent to $2.34 for a 5-pound bag
  • potatoes, down less than 1 percent to $2.67 for a 5-pound bag 

Price checks of alternative milk and egg choices not included in the overall marketbasket survey average revealed the following:

  • half-gallon whole regular milk, $2.04
  • half-gallon organic milk, $4.24
  • one dozen “cage-free” eggs, $3.53

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The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm) 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 14.8 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Newton said.

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