Food Prices on the Rise

Phoenix, AZ – The latest survey from the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation shows the cost of a typical market basket of items is up about 5.3 percent from the last quarter of 2010. The organization's Julie Murphree said that hike was expected, especially after several straight quarters of declines. She also said farmers and ranchers are particularly sensitive to price changes in fuel for planting and harvesting. Her organization figures that costs in this area alone have risen 27 percent in the past year. But Murphree pointed out that food prices overall are up by only about 4 percent from the same time a year earlier. And she said there is some encouraging news from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

(They're anticipating somewhere between a 3 and 4 percent increase overall which, you kind of have to ask yourself, is that bad, is that good. No inflationary increase, especially in food prices, is good. But at least we're not, hopefully, looking at a 6-8 percent increase.)

Not everything is affected equally. The biggest price hikes appear to be in red meats. And bacon in particular has become dearer, rising a whopping 30 percent to an average of $4.79 a pound. Part of that is that some farmers thinned out their herds when the costs of feeding their livestock rose.

(Demand is starting to increase again across the board worldwide. So if you have those two things going on when you're livestock producers, livestock farmers are dealing with some higher food costs, feed costs, then they're going to maybe back off a little bit.)

The price of chicken, however, has remained stable. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.