New report shows price of groceries rising in Ariz. - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Money

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New report shows price of groceries rising in Ariz.

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Posted: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 5:49 pm

The cost of feeding your family is going up.

New figures from the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation put the price tag for a typical market basket of 16 selected basic items at $51.19. That’s up about 40 cents from three months earlier, though slightly below the same time last year.

But the figures are skewed a bit by a big jump in the cost of feeding the family beef for dinner.

Three months ago a pound of sirloin tip roast was running an average of $4.85 in Arizona. It’s now a dollar more.

Take that out of the equation — possibly by looking for alternatives — and that price jump disappears.

The federation’s Julie Murphree said there is no specific reason for the spike in sirloin prices, or, for that matter, the changes overall.

But Murphree warned consumers that there will be some big price swings coming soon. And the reason is the drought.

What’s happened, she said, is that the lack of rain in much of the country is forcing ranchers to sell off their herds that they cannot afford to feed.

In the short term, Murphree said, that is likely to lead to sharply lower beef prices as the market is flooded with meat.

But there’s a nasty surprise waiting in the wings.

“Long term, if cattle have been sent to the market early and you’re cycling through a whole season, later on, when supply is lower, we would see those meat prices increase,’’ she said.

Murphree said that Arizona cattle growers don’t have the same shortages of feed, as much of the supply is produced locally on irrigated fields.

But she said that the demands for feed elsewhere, as crops fail due to lack of rain, will drive up prices on a national level which, in turn, will push up prices for Arizona ranchers.

“It’s kind of a domino effect,’’ she said. “Some of the things that are happening in one part of the country are certainly going to play a role in impacting the prices that eventually get to our pocketbooks.’’

The quarterly survey is based on what federation shoppers found at markets around the state.

Murphree said the prices do not reflect use of coupons or the affinity cards that many supermarket chains provide which give holders additional discounts.

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