If you want red meat in your diet, be prepared to pay more.
The latest survey by the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation shows the cost of a typical market basket of items hit $52.64 in the quarter that just ended.
That’s up just slightly from the prior quarter — but close to 10 percent higher than the same time a year earlier. And if you want to know why, you need look no further than the meat counter.
Consider: Last year you could buy a pound of ground chuck for $3.52. This year it costs 15 percent more.
The $5.69-per-pound sirloin tip roast available last year is now running $6.45.
It’s not just the beef that is ringing up higher. Deli ham spiked by 90 cents a pound in the last year, up to $4.59. And even boneless chicken breasts are much dearer, hitting $4.41 a pound.
“Certain regions of the country were experiencing drought,” making feed more expensive, noted Julie Murphree, spokeswoman for the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation. “They had to pull back on their herds.”
Murphree said it’s hard for ranchers to react to the market and the higher prices now available. She said that’s because it takes about two years to bring a calf to market. By contrast, chickens mature to the size for eating in a fraction of the time.
So why, then, has the price of chicken gone through the roof?
Murphree said that probably comes down to the question of supply and demand: As the price for beef goes up, shoppers turn to other sources of protein.
Not everything has gone up in the past year.
Eggs are more expensive, as is cheese. But it’s now cheaper to buy milk.
The quarterly survey is based on prices federation shoppers found at markets around the state. The prices do not reflect use of coupons or the affinity cards that many supermarket chains provide that give holders additional discounts.