KFB Marketbasket Survey Shows Increase in Food Prices for Second Straight Quarter

Posted on Jul 13, 2018

After two years of slight quarterly declines in food prices, the most recent Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) Marketbasket Survey indicates a food-cost increase for a second straight quarter.

(C) Antonio Diaz - stock.adobe.com
According to the USDA’s Food Dollar Series, a farmer earns less than 15 cents per dollar spent on food. © Antonio Diaz - stock.adobe.com

The survey, taken four times each year, price-checks 40 basic food items throughout the state in an effort to gauge current food-price trends. Since the end of 2016, surveyed food items had dropped by a total of $3.79 or just over three percent.

That trend seems to have come to an end, at least for the first half of 2018. After a first quarter increase of 1.35 percent, the most recent survey shows a 2.19 percent jump. The total price of all 40 items came to $118.26.

The latest Consumer Price Index report from May noted little movement nationally in most food categories over the last several months. There was an unadjusted, 12-month period increase of 1.2 percent in the all-food category. Food-at-home indices indicated a .2 percent decline for the month of May.

Specifically, the CPI noted, “The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs declined 0.7 percent, while the fruits and vegetables index fell 0.3 percent in May after increasing 1.0 percent in April. The indexes for other food at home, and dairy and related products also declined.”

Marketbasket Survey specifics:

These second quarter increases were spread out across all the surveyed food categories including, beef, pork, poultry, dairy, fruits and vegetables, and grains. The largest category increase came in pork products with a rise of 4.09 percent, followed by poultry with an increase of 3.69 percent. All other categories were at or below the two percent mark. The largest single item increase was attributed to a 10-pound bag of Idaho potatoes, which rose by $.55 followed by whole smoked ham prices, which rose $.46 per pound.  

“Even though we are seeing small increases for the first two quarters of 2018, the surveyed food items are still below 2016 prices at the same time of year by nearly 1.6 percent,” said KFB Commodity Division Director Joe Cain. “In the case of pork and poultry increases, we saw pork prices drop by nearly four percent at the end of 2017 and poultry prices fell during the first quarter of this year. I think the shifts we are seeing now can be attributed to normal market fluctuations as opposed to any long-term changes in the market.” 

Agricultural Economics in Food Prices:

Whether or not U.S. grocery prices fluctuate from one quarterly survey to the next, Kentuckians and all Americans continue to enjoy some of the lowest food prices in the world. Shoppers in the U.S. spend only about seven percent of their disposable income on food each year. Those costs remain far lower than any other country in the world thanks to many of the agricultural efficiencies utilized in America. Today the average U.S. farmer produces enough food and fiber to provide for about 154 people – a significant jump from an average of 19 people per farmer back in 1940.

Yet while more food is now being produced on less land, the farmer’s share of the retail food dollar in America is down. According to the USDA’s Food Dollar Series, a farmer earns less than 15 cents per dollar spent on food, which is the lowest amount since the Food Dollar series began, and down significantly from the 31 cents earned in 1980.