Arizona food prices up 5 percent over a year ago

2014-04-04T12:00:00Z Arizona food prices up 5 percent over a year agoBy Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services Arizona Daily Star

Hungry for red meat? You may want to adjust your taste buds.

New figures Thursday from the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation show the cost of beef in the state is skyrocketing.

Consider: Just two years ago the quarterly survey by the organization showed you could buy sirloin tip roast at $4.85 a pound. The survey of prices in the first quarter of this year put the average price at $6.49.

However, the price of less-expensive ground chuck, while up from a year ago, is still pretty close to what it was in 2012.

Consumers looking for prices to drop may have a long wait, Farm Bureau spokeswoman Julie Murphree said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see our meat prices within this market basket maintain that higher price for awhile,” she said.

Murphree said beef prices continue to be impacted by drought conditions, which have driven up the cost of feed. At the same time, the demand for U.S. beef is increasing, not just domestically but worldwide.

But she said there are bargains to be had for “smart shoppers.”

“Remember, we’re not using in-store coupons” in doing the quarterly surveys, she said. “And there’s some really good deals out there, even in your meat, if you hunt for them.”

Overall, the bottom line for the cost of the 16 typical market-basket items checked quarterly by the Farm Bureau is up about 1.5 percent from the prior quarter and 5 percent year over year.

Egg prices continue to creep upward, with the average now at $2.27.

Murphree said this is also an issue of supply and, more significant, demand — much of that from Mexico. She pointed out that Mexico has killed millions of chickens in the last two years due to bird flu. At the same time, she said, per capita use of eggs is much higher south of the border than it is here.

But even at that, the protein available in eggs “is still an amazing value,” she said.

Milk prices also are up. But Murphree said she expects a decline later this year as milk consumption generally drops in the summer.

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