Phoenix, AZ – The Arizona Farm Bureau Federation reports that the cost of its
typical market basket of products dropped a bit in the last three
months of the year, down $1.04 from the prior quarter to $45.44.
While that doesn't seem like much, the organization's Julie
Murphree points out that the nationwide average for the cost of
similar items actually rose 80 cents, to nearly $47. She said
part of that is the competitive market. The state is host to
several retail grocery chains. Wal-Mart also has become a major
player, with Target adding food to some of its stores.
(And Arizona has had a harder time coming out of the recession
than other parts of the country, especially when you consider the
housing market. That causes food retailers a lot harder time to
raise prices on Arizona families.)
But Murphree said consumers should not be surprised if prices
start inching up this year. She said the main culprit is energy
costs, with the price of oil now in the $90-a-barrel range.
(It's almost like everything floats floats on a barrel of oil, no
pun intended. But you're raising oil prices. So the cost to do
everything increases. Until we can get our addiction, ourselves
off of our oil addiction, it's just always going to impact it.)
The change in prices is not uniform. The cost of boneless chicken
breasts dropped by more than 25 percent. But shoppers for other
kinds of meat will be shelling out more. For Arizona Public Radio
this is Howard Fischer.