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Mon, June 24

Grocery prices down, Farm Bureau reports

<b><a href="" target="_blank">Click here to enlarge chart illustration</a></b> | WNI graphic

<b><a href="" target="_blank">Click here to enlarge chart illustration</a></b> | WNI graphic

PHOENIX - If you like ham and eggs for breakfast, a new survey by the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation has some good news and some bad news.

On one hand, ham is cheap.

The latest quarter survey found ham selling for $3.59 a pound. That's down 57 cents from the same price a year earlier.

In fact, prices have not been lower in at least half a decade.

But putting those eggs on the plate continues to get dearer, with Farm Bureau shoppers finding the average cost of a dozen of those up to $3.07 a dozen, 80 cents higher than last year.

The latter is the continuing fallout from bird flu that forced farmers to destroy much of their flocks.

Farm Bureau spokeswoman Julie Murphree said it's a simple matter of supply and demand: Fewer chickens equals fewer eggs for consumers.

She said that same principle applies to ham.

"Domestic pork supplies inventories of ham were at record highs,' Murphree said, meaning that the Farm Bureau shoppers were able to score deals.

Arizona does have a major pork production facility in Snowflake. But she said the high supply and low prices are not just an Arizona phenomenon.

Murphree said beef supplies are also increasing, though nowhere near as fast.

The result is a slight drop in the cost of sirloin tip road, down from $7.65 in the third quarter of 2015 to $7.49 in the last quarter.

But it's still higher than last year.

Murphree has one word: Patience.

She said the high prices for beef in the market will result in ranchers having more animals. That increased supply should drive prices down - eventually - as it takes 24 months to bring a steer to market.

Overall, the total cost of 16 typical items in the last quarter of 2015 was $51.15, down about 6 percent from the third quarter and about 3.5 percent from the same time a year earlier.

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