KFB Marketbasket Survey Shows Slight Decrease in Third Quarter Food Prices

Posted on Oct 17, 2018

The most recent Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) Marketbasket Survey indicates a slight drop in prices for the first time this year after price increases were seen since the start of 2018.

© Syda Productions / Adobe Stock

The Marketbasket Survey is taken four times a year at the end of each quarter to monitor food-price trends across the Commonwealth. The survey records prices of 40 basic food items throughout the state, averaging the numbers into six categories: beef, pork, poultry, dairy, fruits and vegetables, and grains. 

Surveys conducted during the first two quarters of the year indicated increases of 1.35 percent and 2.19 percent, respectively, after a year of declines recorded throughout 2017. Overall food-costs decreased .83 percent from the second quarter, with the total cost of all 40 food items averaging $117.30.

From a national perspective, the latest Consumer Price Index report from September noted very little movement in most food categories since the first of the year. The food at home index increased 0.5 percent over the past nine months while the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs rose 1.1 percent. The index noted that the remaining major grocery store food group indexes posted smaller increases, except for the dairy index, which was unchanged over the last 12 months.

Overall, food prices are seeing very little movement one way or another during the year. Price declines being seen now are following similar increases over the past year and the same is true in those product categories which saw increases in the third quarter.

Marketbasket Survey specifics:

Numbers for third quarter prices were somewhat a mixed bag with several declines along with a few increases. Most notably was a decrease of 8.66 percent for surveyed poultry products including whole fryers, cut fryers, chicken breasts, and large and extra-large eggs. All items in this category experienced price decreases during the quarter.

The next largest drop came by way of fruits and vegetables which declined by 2.88 percent followed by surveyed pork products which fell by nearly 1.85 percent.

The largest category increases in the third quarter were in dairy products with an increase of 2.53 percent, followed by beef products which increased by .43 percent and grains which increased by .07 percent.

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.