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Market Basket: Wisconsin Food Prices Are Trending Lower
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 03/22/2016

It appears that consumers are starting to see the effects of the lower commodity and energy prices while shopping at the grocery store. The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation released its latest Market Basket Survey on Monday, which showed that the average price of 16 basic food items in 28 communities totaled $49.70 during the first three months of 2016. That was down $3.67 from the previous report issued last October, and $2.26 less than year-ago price averages.

WFBF Spokesman Casey Langan says most food items were consistent in price, but had some upward pressure on products like meat, milk and eggs.

"Overall, declining energy costs have had a calming influence on food prices the past couple of years," said Langan, who adds that last spring's outbreak of Avian Influenza sent eggs prices to historic levels. "As egg supplies have returned to normal levels, their 54 percent drop since last fall reflects a return to normalcy."

Unlike the poultry business, which can repopulate its flocks with a relatively quick turnaround, Langan says the beef industry is slowly growing in size after a period of reduced supplies.

"A prolonged drought in western and southern states took a toll on the size of the U.S. cattle herd, shrinking it to a size not seen in 60 years," he notes. "This came as millions of consumers in China, India and Brazil were adding more protein to their diets, causing beef exports to rise."

The Farm Bureau says only three items have seen consecutive price increases, including Cheerios, boneless chicken breast and orange juice.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin's Marketbasket report was about $3.58 less than the American Farm Bureau Federation's national survey of the same items. AFBF's report rang in at $53.28.

Communities surveyed include Algoma, Ashland, Belleville, Beloit, Burlington, Chilton, De Pere, Eau Claire, Edgerton, Manawa, Manitowoc, Marshfield, Medford, Menomonie, Mequon, New London, Paddock Lake, Platteville, Plover, Richland Center, Saukville, Shawano, Sparta, Thorp, Union Grove, Waterford, Watertown and West Bend.

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