SAN ANTONIO, Texas (AP) – Whether you're making fajitas, beans or some post-party menudo this summer, expect to pay a more at the checkout counter than you did in 2013.
Prices charged by suppliers of meat, dairy products and some vegetables have risen for two straight fiscal quarters, and show no signs of slowing down, according to a survey released Thursday by the Texas Farm Bureau.“The reduced supply of staple food items has consumers feeling the pinch at the grocery store,” farm bureau President Kenneth Dierschke said in a statement, adding that farmers and ranchers only see a fraction — an estimated 10 percent — of profits from these higher prices.
The survey, which examined fluctuations over the second fiscal quarters of 2013 and 2014 in the costs of 16 items commonly found in Texas grocery carts, revealed an average increase of about 19 cents for each item. Ground beef, pork chops and chicken breasts rose by 59, 56 and 15 cents per pound, respectively, while pinto beans rose 11 cents per pound.
Dairy products also increased; a gallon of milk rose 18 cents and 8 oz. of cheddar cheese rose 28 cents.
Managers at area food stores such as Discount Groceries and Chicho Boys declined to comment when reached by phone last week.H-E-B spokeswoman Dya Campos said in an email that larger San Antonio grocery suppliers such as H-E-B generally try to absorb as much of these cost increases as they can.“Comparing year over year on grocery items, the retail prices at H-E-B stores have not increased,” Campos explained. “While costs on key commodities fluctuate often … customers do not necessarily see those cost increases reflected at the shelf.”
“Supply and demand have driven the markets for beef, pork and poultry to all-time record highs,” Campos added. “However, H-E-B keeps the prices as low as we can.”Price changes, according to farm bureau spokesman Mike Barnett, can have varying causes.
Meats such as beef, he explained, have been hit hard by an ongoing drought that's reduced Texas cattle herds to some of their smallest numbers in decades.
The pork industry is dealing with an intestinal virus that — while posing no danger to food safety or human heath issues — disproportionately affects small pigs.
Poultry prices have risen in response to beef and cattle prices.Area farmer Russell Boening runs a dairy and beef operation near Elmendorf. While Boening said farmers south of San Antonio and the surrounding counties are struggling with domestic supply issues for meat, international demand is presenting a problem for dairy farmers, which are few in this part of Texas.
“We're seeing more demand from China for milk as they develop more of a middle class,” said Boening. “Locally, too, people (recovering economically) want more cheeses as well.”Still, things could be worse, Campos noted.“Compared to other states, Texas is doing well in terms of prices on market items.”