WISCONSINREPORT.COM (07/08/2009) - Has it been seeming that every time you go to the supermarket you come away with less for the same amount of money that you spent the week before? Well, it may be a surprise that Wisconsin second quarter 2009 retail food prices fell just over 4-percent from the first quarter of 2009. The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Market Basket quarterly survey found the average cost of 20 basic food items totaled $53.40 in the second quarter of 2009. That is a $2.45 decrease from the survey average price of $55.85 in the first quarter of 2009.
The Wisconsin Farm Bureau says the second quarter figures marks the surveyís third straight quarterly decrease after a decrease of nearly 2-percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 and a decrease of more than 3-percent in the first quarter of 2009.
Wisconsinís largest farm organization tracks the retail price of 20 food items in 26 communities across the state.
Many items in the survey saw significant decreases in the second quarter of 2009. A gallon of whole milk was down nearly 11-percent in the second quarter. The average retail price of a gallon was $2.59 in the second quarter, 31-cents less than the first quarter price of $2.90.
The May 2009 milk price paid to farmers decreased to $12 per hundredweight (cwt). A hundredweight is the measure used by farmers and wholesale buyers of milk. It translates to 100 pounds of milk or 11.63 gallons per cwt.
This means that of the $2.60 per gallon retail price in May, only $1.03 or 40-percent of the consumerís price, actually went to dairy farmers.
"Farmers are always price takers meaning they do not have impact on the prices they are paid," according to Paul Ketring, the Farm Bureauís director of communications.
"While input prices and the cost of farming continue to climb, farmers are not able to pass the higher input costs to the consumer," Ketring continued.
"The end result is a reduction in profits if any are even realized and in some cases farmers lose money," Ketring said.
"People often have a misconception that farmers are setting retail prices when in reality they do not even have power over the wholesale prices they receive," Ketring points out.
Other large retail price decreases were found in the second quarter survey.
- A pound of sirloin tip roast was down 66-cents to $3.36 and a dozen eggs were down 17-cents or almost 13-percent with a second quarter price of $1.14 versus $1.31 in the previous quarter.
- A pound of red delicious apples decreased over 11-percent to $1.27 /lb.
Few increases were seen in this Market Basket survey.
- The largest increase was for a pound of chicken breast at $2.44, up from $2.20 in the first quarter.
- Other meat prices were mixed with a modest increase for a pound of ham and equally modest decreases for a pound of ground sirloin, a pound of pork chops, and a pound of whole chicken.
Ketring and the Wisconsin Farm Bureau indicate itt is difficult to attribute causes to the price fluctuations in this survey. A myriad of factors are currently at play including economic conditions around the world and in the United States.
Demand and supply have not had a chance to align as producers have no stable market to base decisions on and consumers are becoming more and more frugal with their food dollar.
The USDA reports that red meat production in Wisconsin was down 7-percent when comparing May 2009 to May 2008.
While decreased production should put upward pressure on prices, the red meat prices measured in the Market basket survey decreased. This demonstrates that there may be factors beyond supply and demand that impact retail food prices.