Prices in America's supermarkets dipped slightly during the second quarter of 2000, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation's Marketbasket Survey.

The latest informal national survey shows a 12-cent decrease in selected grocery items from this year's first quarter.

Americans paid $33.37 for 16 selected items during the second quarter of this year. The decrease marks the first drop in the average overall price since last year's second quarter, when prices dropped 82 cents. Historically, prices during the second quarter tend to increase. This quarter's drop only is the third second-quarter decrease since the survey's inception in 1989.

AFBF conducts its informal quarterly Marketbasket Survey to help track retail food prices to ensure they are in line with prices received by the nation's farmers and ranchers. During the past year, while grocery prices have inched up, the farmers and ranchers' share has remained steady and low. The farm value of each food dollar spent in the United States is approximately 20 cents. Labor, at 39 cents, is the largest component of the consumers' food dollar.

A 22-cent drop in the price of a dozen eggs, to 85 cents, was the biggest contributor to the 12-cent overall decline. The drop in prices is attributed to a large supply of eggs across the nation.

"There are a lot of eggs being produced," said Mark Jenner, an economist with AFBF. "Months ago, the egg industry was concerned about the number of eggs being processed, fearing a glut of eggs on the market.

Of the 16 items on the survey, 11 dropped in price. Other decreases included potatoes, $1.56 per five-pound bag, down 13 cents; cereal, $2.91 per 10-ounce box, down eight cents; milk, $2.72 per gallon, down seven cents; vegetable oil, $2.15 per 32-ounce bottle, down six cents; corn oil, $2.41 per 32-ounce bottle, down four cents; ground chuck, $1.81 per pound, down two cents; cheddar cheese, $3.15 per pound, down two cents; and mayonnaise, $2.83 per 32-ounce jar, down two cents.

Pork products had the largest increases in prices during the second quarter. A pound of pork chops jumped 32 cents to $3.15 and a pound of bacon increased 19 cents to $2.75. Joe Miller AFBF economist wasn't surprised by these increases.

"The bacon market has been in a very bullish mode for well over a year not," said Miller, who added that the bacon market also is impacting the pork chop inventory. "We have extremely tight bacon stocks. The reason is fast food restaurants over the past two years have increasingly been putting more bacon on their sandwiches to add flavor."

Other increases included; white bread, $1.20 per 20-ounce loaf, up seven cents; apples, 97 cents per pound, up four cents; and flour, $1.41 per five-pound bag, up two cents.

Volunteer shoppers from 34 states participated in this latest survey, conducted in mid-May. The average price of this quarter is only $4.87 higher than the $28.50 average price of the inaugural survey in 1989.

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