Bacon and eggs costing Arizonans a pretty penny

PHOENIX -- That traditional morning staple of bacon and eggs is costing Arizona shoppers more.

A new grocery story price survey Tuesday from the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation finds eggs retailing around the state at an average of more than $2 a dozen, up 18 cents from just three months earlier. And bacon is flirting with $5 a pound.

But the organization's Julie Murphree said relief for shoppers may be on the way, at least for the first part of that breakfast.

She said demand for eggs peaked during the holiday season.

"There really isn't a good substitute for eggs in holiday recipes,' she said.

"So as long as we're going to celebrate with friends and family around the holidays, we're probably going to end up getting a boost in the egg prices,' Murphree continued. "That's because you and I are hot to be baking.'

That desire, though, appears to evaporate rapidly once the guests are gone. In fact, Murphree said that the price producers are able to demand for their eggs has dropped a third since the beginning of the year.

She cautioned, though, that shoppers should not expect an identical drop in what rings up at the cash register, saying retail prices tend to be "sticky,' not moving as much as the swings at the wholesale level.

That bacon, however, is another matter -- as are all pork and beef products. Here, Murphree said, demand remains high while supply is not quite keeping pace.

Murphree said farm analysts say the lack of precipitation this past year in the Great Plains continues to have an effect, making feed more expensive. Even in Arizona, she said, the lack of rain affects ranchers here.

Still, Murphree said that does not mean shoppers have to give up red meat.

She said many stores run "loss leaders' to bring customers in the door, offering beef and pork below what they are paying themselves. Murphree suggested buying as much as possible -- or at least as much as will fit into a freezer.

At the other extreme on the quarterly survey, potatoes are a relative bargain, with a 5-pound bag retailing for an average of $2.69. That's a full dollar less than three months earlier.

Murphree stressed that the survey reflects what Farm Bureau volunteers pay on items, considering all sales but before the use of any coupons. She said greater savings may be available for shoppers who have a chain's "affinity' card.


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