Shoppers paid slightly more for food at the grocery store at the beginning of 2013.
Higher retail prices for meat items such as sliced deli ham, boneless chicken breasts and ground chuck, among other foods, resulted in a slight increase in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s first Semi-Annual Marketbasket Survey.
The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $51.54, up $1 or about 2 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2012. Of the 16 items surveyed, 11 increased and five decreased in average price compared to the prior quarter.
"Overall, food prices have remained remarkably stable over the past two or three quarters, particularly given the run-up in energy prices over this most recent quarter," said John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist.
"Meat prices rose in price a bit more than most other items in the first quarter, but for the basket as a whole, price changes have been fairly modest," Anderson explained. "Looking ahead, we expect food prices to rise by 3 to 4 percent during 2013, which is slightly higher than the average rate of inflation over the past 10 years."
Items showing retail price increases included deli ham, up 50 cents to $5.39 per pound; flour, up 25 cents to $2.62 for a 5-pound bag; chicken breasts, up 22 cents to $3.32 per pound; ground chuck, up 19 cents to $3.74 per pound; shredded cheddar cheese, up 16 cents to $4.47 per pound; bagged salad, up 12 cents to $2.71 per pound; sirloin tip roast, up 11 cents to $4.63 per pound; bacon, up 7 cents to $4.28 per pound; Russet potatoes, up 7 cents to $2.69 for a 5-pound bag; vegetable oil, up 6 cents to $2.92 for a 32-ounce bottle; and apples, up 3 cents to $1.63 per pound.
These items showed modest retail price decreases: whole milk, down 27 cents to $3.46 per gallon; white bread, down 20 cents to $1.65 for a 20-ounce loaf; orange juice, down 13 cents to $3.28 per half-gallon; toasted oat cereal, down 12 cents to $2.91 for a 9-ounce box; and eggs, down 6 cents to $1.84 per dozen.
According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world.
A total of 86 shoppers in 24 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in March.