Farm Bureau reports beef prices see sharp drop in last quarter

PHOENIX -- If the latest report from the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation is any indicator, cuts of beef will be more reasonable this year than last year.

But organization spokeswoman Julie Murphree said that should not be considered a license to overindulge.

Shoppers from the organization found the average price for the quarter just ended for sirloin tip roast at $5.86 a pound. That’s a dollar less than the last quarter of 2016 and nearly $2 less than the same time a year earlier.

Yet the cost of buying a pound of ground chuck is inching up, registering at $3.34 a pound now versus $3.12 last year.

Murphree said the difference may be a simple question of demand.

She said shoppers can decide that they really don’t need the fancier cuts of meat. Hamburger, however may be another story.

“We just got through the holiday season and a lot of families grill,’’ Murphree said. “We’re going into the summer season and a lot of families like to do a lot more grilling.’’

The new report released Monday also shows that egg prices remain far more affordable now than they have been.

A dozen large eggs will set the typical shopper back $1.54. And while that’s up 11 cents from three months ago, it is still only about half of what shoppers were paying last year.

Murphree said this reflects the continued efforts by farmers to replenish stocks of laying hens which were decimated by avian flu.

One sharp increase came in the cost of a box of toasted oat cereal, rising 37 cents in the last quarter and nearly a dollar in the past year.

Murphree said this may be due to farmers changing out what they grow after the prices dropped sharply on the commodities that go into cereal. So as wheat and oats become less available, the cost will increase.

While Murphree said she is a big proponent of eating beef, she said Arizonans should not see that as an invitation to consume a lot more -- at least not at one sitting.

“I always say, ‘Eat beef, but have a balanced plate,’ ‘’ she said, with meat no more than a third of what is being served. What that should translate to, said Murphree, is a serving of beef between three and five ounces.

The problem, she said, is that Americans are blessed with abundance. And Murphree said it shows, with people having a tendency to over eat.

She said people don’t need to look far, pointing to restaurants that serve these 20-ounce steaks -- a helping she does not consider healthy.

“We’re kind of going a little bit overboard,’’ Murphree said.

The prices in the survey are what Farm Bureau shoppers found on average. That means taking advantage of sales but without the use of coupons and without using the “affinity’’ cards that some chains offer for special sales.

Se said careful consumers may be able to do better by looking for loss-leaders at supermarkets.

Market basket of 16 selected basic items:

2017 1st qtr -- $49.16

2016 4th qtr -- $47.07

2016 3rd qtr -- $48.72

2016 2nd qtr -- $49.26

2016 1st qtr -- $51.20

2015 4th qtr -- $51.15

2015 3rd qtr -- $54.57

2015 2nd qtr -- $50.88

2015 1st qtr -- $50.29

2014 4th qtr -- $53.02

2014 3rd qtr -- $50.88

2014 2nd qtr -- $52.64

2014 1st qtr -- $52.40

2013 4th qtr -- $51.62

2013 3rd qtr -- $50.87

2013 2nd qtr -- $47.97

2013 1st qtr -- $49.75

2012 4th qtr -- $50.54

2012 3rd qtr -- $49.25

2012 2nd qtr -- $51.19

2012 1st qtr -- $50.79

2011 4th qtr -- $51.39

2011 3rd qtr -- $50.71

2011 2nd qtr -- $51.31

2011 1st qtr -- $47.85

2010 4th qtr -- $45.44

2010 3rd qtr -- $46.48

-- Source: Arizona Farm Bureau Federation

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