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8:49 PM Sat, Nov. 17th

Some grocery staple prices drop from Arizona highs



PHOENIX - The prices on two grocery staples are finally returning to normal in Arizona.

Shoppers for the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation found they can now buy eggs for $1.69 a dozen. That's pretty much half price of what it cost just a year earlier.

And a gallon of whole milk, which was running close to $3 a gallon a year ago, now is, on average, running about a dollar less.

So what gives?

Some of it is the price of gasoline and diesel, according to Peggy Jo Goodfellow.

"The cost of transportation is down because fuel costs are down,' said the organization's marketing manager.

She said it starts with the cost of getting essentials such as feed to the producers. And for dairy, there's the cost of transporting the milk itself from individual farmers to the processors.

But there's something else.

The price of eggs skyrocketed last year amid the avian flu scare, with producers, particularly in the Midwest, killing tens of millions of laying hens.

Fewer chickens translated out to fewer eggs. And, supply and demand being what they are, those who still wanted them had to dig a little deeper into their wallets.

And some people simply decided they didn't need them, at least not at that price.

"It made me not make egg salad for quite a while,' Goodfellow said.

Overall, the market basket of 16 typical items the federation prices on a quarterly basis came in at $49.26. That is down $1.62 from the same time a year earlier.

Beef prices are a bit higher than they were a year ago. But they actually have been higher in the interim and have dropped back a bit from where they were even three months earlier.

More noticeable is the cost of chicken, which is up sharply, with boneless breasts up more than a dollar a pound in the past year. Goodfellow said she has no good explanation for that.

The prices in the survey are based on what federation shoppers find at markets throughout the state.

They do include whatever weekly specials are available but do not take into account coupons or discounts that are available to those with any chain's affinity cards.