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Farm News: Dow Jones Tumbles - But Food Stays Stable

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Posted: 06.30.2010

If your stomach knotted up on Tuesday when the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped below 10,000 - take heart.  You can still afford food.

The latest Market Basket Survey by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation sees food prices in the second quarter of 2010 remaining 'stable'.  Half way through 2010, the 20 selected food items that the Farm Bureau monitors were stable compared to both the first quarter of 2010 and the same time last year. Total price on the 20 selected items was just 38 cents higher then the first quarter of 2010 - or less than one percent.
 
Sliced bacon, whole chicken, chicken breast and potatoes increased the most in dollar value from quarter-to-quarter. 
 
Among those items, sliced bacon saw the biggest percentage increase, jumping over 13 percent as the price increased 56 cents from $4.21 to $4.77. The price of a whole chicken increased 19 cents per pound from $1.51 to $1.70 per pound, marking an over 12 percent hike. Potatoes and chicken breast both saw identical percentage increases in price (6.45 percent). Potatoes were up 18 cents, while chicken breast increased 19 cents.  
 
Eggs, tomatoes and corn oil were the items that decreased the most in dollar value since the first quarter of 2010.
 
Tomatoes rang up at $1.81 per pound, down from $2.09 earlier in the year, marking a decline of over 13 percent. Corn oil also saw a modest 7 percent reduction, down from $3.60 to $3.34. The biggest fall in price was a dozen eggs which fell from $1.43 to 1.04, posting a decline in price of over 27 percent.
 
Twelve of the survey’s 20 items saw their prices change by less than 3 percent since the first quarter survey. The average prices of a loaf of wheat bread and quart of orange juice did not change at all.
 
Compared to a year ago, the survey shows greater fluctuations in price per individual item, yet their overall cost was relatively unchanged.
 
Sirloin tip roast, whole milk and tomatoes all have seen their prices increase by over 10 percent since the past year. Butter, potatoes and corn oil prices have all decreased by over 10 percent. Only two of the survey’s 20 items have changed by less than 3 percent over the past year (orange juice and pork chops).
 
As retail grocery prices have gradually increased, the share of the average food dollar that farm families receive has dropped. In the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures in grocery stores and restaurants. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now just 19 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
 
Using that percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this quarter’s $53.46 market basket would be $10.16.
 
According to the USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world.

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