Spring picnic foods more affordable than last year

If you’re shopping for spring picnic supplies, expect to be pleasantly surprised.

Lower retail prices for several foods included in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual spring picnic marketbasket survey resulted in a slight decrease for the overall cost. The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more spring picnic meals was $53.28, down 59 cents from a year ago.

“Overall, consumers can expect picnic meal costs to remain about the same as 2015,” said Tony Banks, commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “The modest changes to retail prices reflect the larger price swings farmers have been experiencing over the past year.”

Of the 16 items surveyed, 10 decreased and six increased in average price. Prices for bagged salad, orange juice, shredded Cheddar, whole milk, ground chuck, vegetable oil, white bread, sirloin tip roast, potatoes and flour all decreased from last year. Salad was down 11 percent to $2.20 per pound; orange juice was down 8 percent to $3.21 per half-gallon; shredded Cheddar dropped 7 percent to $4.29 per pound; whole milk dropped 6 percent to $3.23 per gallon; ground chuck dropped 5 percent to $4.36 per pound; vegetable oil decreased 5 percent to $2.55 for a 32-ounce bottle; white bread dropped 3 percent to $1.69 per 20-ounce loaf; sirloin tip roast was down 1 percent to $5.65 per pound; potatoes were down 1 percent to $2.71 for a 5-pound bag; and flour was down 1 percent to $2.49 for a 5-pound bag.

Prices on the beef items are lower compared with the first quarter of 2015, said John Anderson, AFBF deputy chief economist. Retail beef prices peaked in early 2015 at record-high levels. “Since then, a combination of increasing beef production, weaker exports and lower competing meat prices have led to modest price declines,” Anderson said.

Items that showed a modest retail price increase compared to a year ago were apples, up 12 percent to $1.64 per pound; eggs, up 9 percent to $2.23 per dozen; bacon, up 8 percent to $4.78 per pound; toasted oat cereal, up 6 percent to $3.31 for a 9-ounce box; chicken breasts, up 3 percent to $3.37 per pound; and deli ham, up 1 percent to $5.57 per pound.

“Changes in commodity prices are being driven largely by shifts in supply and demand,” Banks explained.

As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world.

Media: Contact Kari Barbic, 202-406-3672, or Cyndie Shearing, 202-406-3649, AFBF communications; or Banks at 804-290-1114.

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