Whitesburg KY

Food, gas cheaper

Here’s a double helping of good news for consumers in Letcher County and elsewhere in Kentucky — gasoline prices are lower this week and food prices are, too.

Average retail gasoline prices in Kentucky fell at least 9.2 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.62 per gallon at the beginning of this week, according to GasBuddy’s survey of 2,623 gas outlets in Kentucky. This compares with the national average that has fallen 0.9 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.76 per gallon, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com.

Including the change in gas prices in Kentucky during the past week, prices on Monday were 89.6 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 9.9 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 3.5 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 81.2 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

For the second quarter in a row, meanwhile, the average price of retail food items across the state has decreased — even if just by a few cents. According to the Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) Federation’s latest Marketbasket Survey, taken in June of this year, the average total cost of 40 basic grocery items was $126.17, or five cents (0.1 percent) lower than what was reported in the previous quarter.

This slight price decrease now places KFB’s Marketbasket Survey total $3.03 lower than where it ended in 2014, but it is still $3.88, or 3.2 percent, higher than the total reported in the second quarter of last year, according to a KFB news release.

Food price averages at the national level, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent Consumer Price Index data, reflected an overall increase of 0.4 percent in June. This was the largest single-month increase in the CPI report since September 2014, partly due to a sharp increase in the eggs index. Overall, the CPI data shows that national prices for foodat home have increased by an overall total of 1.0 percent during the past 12 months.

So far, the USDA Economic Research Service’s prediction (based on the assumption of normal weather conditions) that food prices would level out during 2015 has proven accurate in Kentucky. Overall, annual food-at-home cost increases were forecast to keep pace with, or end up slightly below, average food price inflation, increasing by a total of 2.0 to 3.0 percent by year’s end.

Marketbasket Survey specifics

In KFB’s second quarter Marketbasket Survey, the overall trend of decreasing prices was led evenly by dairy products, grains, and fruits and vegetables. Any opportunity for price growth in the Marketbasket Survey this quarter was offset by the near-evenly split fluctuations in the survey’s six food groups — beef, pork, poultry, dairy, grains, and fruits and vegetables.

Review of categorical pricing revealed that dairy experienced the greatest total price drop at -$0.73, but grains were lower by overall percentage, falling an average of 4.4 percent. Beef, on the other hand, reached a new all-time high in the survey’s history ($38.02 for five beef items) after setting a new high last quarter. Overall, 23 of the 40 items recorded in this survey experienced decreases in average price during the second quarter.

Cities reporting on the Kentucky Farm Bureau Marketbasket Survey for the second quarter of 2015 include: Alexandria, Augusta, Bardstown, Bowling Green, Cold Springs, Danville, Eddyville, Elkton, Flatwoods, Glasgow, Grayson, Harrodsburg, Hartford, Hopkinsville, Lexington, Louisa, Madisonville, Maysville, Munfordville, Owensboro, Owenton, Owingsville, Powderly, Richmond, Salyersville, Scottsville, Shelbyville, Taylorsville and Walton, according to the KFB website.

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