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Grocery Prices on the Rise

The Texas Farm Bureau finds some increase in grocery prices.
Photo by KUT News
The Texas Farm Bureau finds some increase in grocery prices.

A survey by the Texas Farm Bureau's "Grocery Price Watch" found that Texans are paying more for some food staple items.

The report shows an increase in prices for pork chops, lettuce and tomatoes between Q4 2010 and Q1 2011. According to Gene Hall, director of public relations for the Texas Farm Bureau, a hard freeze in Mexico earlier in the year was part of the cause, but only a part.

"Well the Mexican freeze in one of the factors, certainly it's had an effect on supply," Hall told KUT News. "The primary cause of recent food price increases is energy. And that doesn't or shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that has filled up their tank lately. The experts we interviewed for this news release indicated that as much as 44 percent of the price of food is now laid at the door of increased fuel costs."

It's not all bad news, though. While there have been significant increases in the costs of certain food items, others remained the same or decreased. A half-gallon of vanilla ice cream and a pound of grapefruits showed no quarterly increase, while rice, turkey, and breakfast cereal showed significant drops in cost.

The price of corn also continues to increase, but Hall said that has little to do with the increase in grocery prices.

"Corn prices are up, certainly," Hall said. "But when you take into account everything else, primarily the cost of energy, it's much more of a factor."

Hall explained the reason for the increase in corn prices even while corn production increases is because most of the corn grown in the country is not for human consumption.

"It's for livestock feed," Hall said. "And as I said, we're growing more to take into account that we are also producing some ethanol."

The future for the prices of groceries remains unclear.

"It's hard to say unless you can get a handle on those energy prices cause that is factor number one," Hall said. "You know, keep an eye on the Middle East and the unrest that's going on there. And what's our oil supply going to be like? And until we know that we can't accurately predict food prices."

Mario will be an intern at KUT for the spring of 2011. He is currently a student at UT Austin pursuing his MA in Journalism. Prior to UT, he spent 27 months in Costa Rica as a Peace Corps Volunteer. His reporting interests include Mexican-American studies, immigration issues, and the ongoing drug war in Mexico. He was born in Chihuahua, Mexico but grew up in El Paso, Texas and has a BA in Communication from UT-San Antonio.