Grocery prices in Missouri rise above national average

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- It may be a rare occurrence, but grocery prices in Missouri rose to more than the national average in the final quarter of 2011.

And the USDA says prices will continue to go up in 2012.

The American Farm Bureau tracks grocery prices in its Market Basket Survey, a review of 16 agriculture products frequently purchased by U.S. households. Missouri generally trends under the national average.

But in the fourth quarter of 2011, the price of those 16 items in Missouri rose by $2.69 to $52.01. The national average of those items declined $3.89 to $49.23.

"It's very unusual for Missouri prices to trend higher than the national average on this quarterly ... survey," said Diane Olson, director of promotion and education for the Missouri Farm Bureau. "There really is not an explanation that I can offer on that, because it's just so unusual that our prices are higher."

Breaking down the basket, five of the six meat items were up in price in Missouri during the last three months of 2011. That includes shaved deli ham, bacon, sirloin tip roast, boneless chicken breast and ground chuck.

Of that meat group, chicken breasts were the price leader.

"The poultry producers are not stocking as many chickens in their chicken houses, and so the end product is not as available," said Olsen.

According to the USDA, feed prices and the worldwide demand for American meat products, especially beef, is driving meat prices higher, although the American Farm Bureau fourth quarter market basket survey found a decline in all meat prices on a nationwide average.

Also up in Missouri were russet potatoes, salad mix, grated sharp cheddar cheese, butter, orange juice and bread. Declining in price in Missouri were flour, whole milk and red delicious apples.

Overall, market basket prices in Missouri were $4.14 higher at the end of 2011 than at the end of 2010.

"I'm holding my breath that this is just a blip, I think that's the case," said Olsen. "At the end of the year, oftentimes we see those prices fluctuate. It will be interesting to see the first quarter of 2012 and see if that situation rectifies itself."

While it's possible that Missouri may see lower grocery prices than the national average in the months to come, the USDA says don't look for prices over all to go down soon. The department is calling for overall grocery price inflation of 3 to 4 percent in the coming year.

In food Consumer Price Index, the USDA says grocery prices in 2012 will "hinge significantly on several macroeconomic factors such as weather conditions, fuel prices and the value of the U.S. dollar."

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