Following two quarters of significant drops, retail prices for food at the supermarket rose in the fourth quarter, according to the latest American Farm Bureau Federation Marketbasket Survey. The informal survey on the total cost of 16 basic grocery items showed an increase of 71 cents from this year’s third quarter survey.

The $35.69 average paid by volunteer shoppers for the 16 items, although higher than the second and third quarter averages, is actually down 33 cents from the first quarter survey average of $36.02.

While survey averages have fluctuated in 2002, food remains affordable overall. Since its inception in 1989, the survey average has increased at a rate lower than other cost of living increases.

Sirloin tip roast showed the largest increase, up 27 cents to $3.12 per pound, followed closely by corn oil, up 21 cents to $2.39 per 32-ounce bottle. Bacon also increased 14 cents to $2.88 per pound.