Arizona Food Prices Up 1% from Last Quarter, Contrary to the National Path

American Farm Bureau Federation

Arizona retail food prices at the supermarket are up slightly in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the latest Arizona Farm Bureau Federation Market Basket Survey. The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 basic grocery items was $51.39, up 68 cents or about 1% above the third quarter of 2011. Comparatively, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s national survey was $49.23, down $3.89 or 7% lower compared to the third quarter of 2011.


“Since about the last quarter of 2010, we have seen consistently higher prices quarter-to-quarter on a broad range of marketbasket items,” said Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau Director of Public Relations, Marketing and Ag Education.  “While the fourth quarter marketbasket price was higher than the third quarter, the items in this basket suggest that food price inflation is at least slowing down.”


High-end meat cuts and dairy products in Arizona accounted for the biggest increase in the marketbasket.


“With consumer confidence still a little shaky closing out the year, it appears that retailers are holding the line on food prices as much as possible,” explains Murphree.  “But as we’ve seen gas prices rise in just the last few weeks we remain cautious. Energy prices are always the wild card. If oil continues to rise, all bets are off.” 


The importance of improving farm practices is not lost on Arizona Farm Bureau members. “To feed the majority of Americans, crop and livestock agriculture must continually become more efficient, and in many cases, larger to spread energy and labor costs across more acres to help stabilize prices at the grocery store,” said John Boelts, vegetable farmer from Yuma, Arizona and Yuma County Farm Bureau president. Boelts, who said the cost for just one refueling of one large tillage tractor can be more than $600, explained that labor and energy are the two largest operating costs that must be controlled.


To access an entire menu focused on those food items down in price in the fourth quarter and designed around stretching your food dollar, go to Look for the latest “Stretch Your Food Dollar” menu and the additional food savings tips.


Of the 16 items surveyed in Arizona, eight decreased, six increased, and two remained the same compared to the 2011 third quarter survey. The national survey quarter-to-quarter comparison shows 14 decreased, two increased.


In Arizona, off-the-shelf prices for shredded cheddar cheese showed the greatest decrease in price down 34 cents to $4.68 a pound; ground chuck down 19 cents to $3.30 a pound; apples down 18 cents to $1.33 a pound; russet potatoes down 17 cents to $2.79 a pound; flour down 10 cents to $2.13 a 5-pound bag; bagged salad down 6 cents to $2.55 for the pound bag; boneless chicken down 4 cents to $3.43 a pound; and vegetable oil down 1 cent to $2.60 for the 32 oz bottle.


Sirloin roast showed the largest price increase up 49 cents to $5.83 a pound.  The other items that increased in price were bacon up 43cents to $4.85 a pound; eggs up 43 cents to $2.07 a dozen; whole milk up 21 cents to $3.00 a gallon; white bread up 20 cents to $ 1.80 a 20-oz loaf and sliced deli ham up 1 cents to $4.76 a pound.


The 8.9-oz box of toasted oat cereal and a half gallon of orange juice remained the same at $3.29 and $2.98 respectively.


The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have gradually increased over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.


“In the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average.  That figure has decreased steadily and is now just 16 percent, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s revised Food Dollar Series Department statistics,” explains John Anderson, American Farm Bureau Economist.  The USDA’s new Food Dollar Series may be found online at


Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the Arizona farmer’s share of this quarter’s $51.39 Market Basket total would be $8.22. 


The Farm Bureau Market Basket Survey is unscientific, but serves as a gauge of actual price trends across the state. Arizona’s bargain shoppers statewide should find individual items at prices comparable to the Farm Bureau survey averages and certainly cheaper with discounts and in-store specials. Arizona Farm Bureau seeks to identify the best in-store price, excluding promotional coupons and special deals.






2011 Market Basket Survey Results


Arizona Farm Bureau Money Saving Tips to Stretch your Food Dollars        

  • Check the newspaper for sale items then make a plan where to shop.
  • Go through your pantry and keep it organized so you know what you have.
  • Make a list and stick to it.
  • Use grocery store club cards and then compare prices to store brands.
  • Buy fresh items, instead of processed items.
  • Consider buying frozen vegetables, they are picked fresh, flash frozen immediately and are less expensive and will keep longer.
  • When planning your menu think of ways to maximize the use of the “Stretch Your Food Dollar” menu as a springboard to create your own menu. Create meals around the items down in price. If you feel you can’t build a menu using an item that is down in price such as orange juice, use citrus slices instead.  
  • Buy in bulk, but don’t buy more than you can eat.
  • Clip and use coupons. Put a ‘C’ next to items on your list that you have a coupon for. It will help you remember to use it at the checkout stand.  
  • Shop the edges of the store avoiding the items at the ends of the aisles.
  • When shopping meat sales items, consider stocking your freezer.


Stretch Your Food Dollar Menu XVI

Arizona Farm Bureau put together a menu to help you stretch your food dollar by utilizing items that have gone down in price. This quarter’s items down in price are shredded cheese, apples, ground chuck, flour, boneless chicken, vegetable oil, bagged salad and potatoes. To obtain actual recipes for the “Stretch Your Food Dollar Menu XVI” go to and click on the recipe tab. 


Susie Timm with, consulted on menu XVI from some of her personal recipe collection.


Menu for the Week:

Sunday:     Flash Fired Chicken
                       Green Salad
                       Milk or Iced Tea
Monday:     Hearty Beef and Potato Casserole
                      Crusty Bread
                      Milk or Iced Tea
Tuesday:     Baked Whole Chicken
                       Cheese baked apples
                       Milk or Iced Tea
Wednesday: Chicken Caesar Salad
                          Crust Bread
                          Milk or Iced Tea
Thursday:  Cheeseburgers
                       Apple Slaw
                       Milk or Iced Tea
Friday:   Mashed Potatoes
                  topped with Chicken and Pea Gravy
                  Milk or Iced Tea
Saturday: Spaghetti and Meatballs
                     Tossed Salad
                     Milk or Iced Tea

***You may adjust this suggested menu to your family’s likes and needs.


Shopping list:

Dry goods:

2 loaves crusty bread or baggette

1 package Spaghetti



1 head Boston lettuce

1 bag Romaine or American salad mix

2 large shallots

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 cucumber

1 bunch parsley

1 lb. mushrooms

1 medium onion

2 garlic cloves

4 medium potatoes

6 medium apples- Gala or Fuji

2 medium green tart apples

1 lemon



2- Gallons milk

2 cup bag of shredded cheese

1 small container yogurt

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese



4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 whole chicken

3 lbs. chicken tenders

3 – 1 lb packages of ground beef



1 jar pasta sauce

2 can chicken stock

1 can cream of mushroom soup

 Extra Virgin Olive oil

Italian Seasoning

Red wine vinegar

White wine vinegar

Celery seeds


Pantry items you might have on hand:

Brown Sugar                Vegetable oil   

Mayonnaise                  Flour

Bread crumbs               Salt & Pepper

Thyme                          Lemon juice

Sugar                           Butter  

Cinnamon                   1 dozen eggs


The cost of all the items on the “Stretch Your Food Dollar Menu XVI” is about $95.70. Note that most of the shopping list items for this quarters menu are non-processed…keeping costs down.

This quarter’s Stretch Your Dollar menu and recipes are available on


About the Arizona Farm Bureau

Arizona Farm Bureau began a quarterly Market Basket starting the fourth quarter of 2006. The Arizona Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization dedicated to preserving and improving the Agriculture industry through member involvement in education, political activities, programs and services. Go to to learn more.To obtain “Stretch Your Food Dollar” menu and nutrition information go to

As a member services organization, individuals can become a member by contacting the Farm Bureau. For information on member benefits call 480.635.3609.



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