Retail prices for food at the supermarket rose 4 percent in the third quarter of 2004, with bacon leading the way, up 38 cents per pound to $3.52, according to the latest American Farm Bureau Federation marketbasket survey. However, center cut pork chops only went up 9 cents per pound, to $3.43.The informal survey on the total cost of 16 basic grocery items showed an increase of $1.53 from the 2004-second quarter survey

The $40.38 average paid by volunteer shoppers for the 16 items is $3.92 higher than the 2003 third quarter survey average of $36.46. While the survey average has increased from a year ago, food remains affordable overall. Americans spend just 10 percent of their disposable income on food annually, the lowest average of any country in the world.

"Retail demand for all types of protein continues to rise and is the main factor behind higher average prices for bacon, pork chops, sirloin tip roast, ground chuck and whole fryers during this quarter," says AFBF senior economist Terry Francl. "Consumers are almost insatiable in their demand for pork products as they seek out alternatives to higher priced beef cuts. This in turn drives up the price of popular pork products such as bacon and chops."

Despite steady increases in grocery store average prices over time, the share of the average food dollar received by America's farm and ranch families has actually dropped. "This reflects a long-standing trend," says Francl. "Thirty years ago farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures."

According to the most recent Agriculture Department statistics, America's farmers and ranchers receive just 19 cents out of every dollar spent for food. Using that across-the-board percentage, the farmer's share of this quarter's marketbasket average total would be about $7.67.

AFBF conducts its informal quarterly marketbasket survey as a tool to reflect retail food price trends. A total of 97 volunteer shoppers in 35 states participated in this latest survey, conducted in mid-August.

AgPRonline