Southwest Florida seeing some higher prices since summer crop damage

Frank Murphy hands over wrapped chicken to Sheila Anderson on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, at Oakes Farm Market in East Naples. With the recent drought sweeping the nation, grocery stores are forced to adjust prices higher than normal. So far, according to Murphy, beef is up 30 percent, pork up 18 percent and chicken up 10 percent "and climbing" since August. Feeding livestock is the main issue; corn is up 23 percent globally. "It's the highest we've ever seen," Murphy said. "Veal? We're not even bringing in until prices settle."

Photo by COREY PERRINE, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo

Frank Murphy hands over wrapped chicken to Sheila Anderson on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, at Oakes Farm Market in East Naples. With the recent drought sweeping the nation, grocery stores are forced to adjust prices higher than normal. So far, according to Murphy, beef is up 30 percent, pork up 18 percent and chicken up 10 percent "and climbing" since August. Feeding livestock is the main issue; corn is up 23 percent globally. "It's the highest we've ever seen," Murphy said. "Veal? We're not even bringing in until prices settle."

— Despite the rising price of some foods items, Carol Comeaux may still splurge on a holiday dinner.

She'll just have to find the deals.

"I have seen quite an increase in the prices all over," said the North Naples resident, noting the hike in the cost of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices.

Food prices that consumers feared would rise because of severe weather damage to crops this past summer in the farm belt are creeping up across Southwest Florida.

To gauge the extent of what nature has done to food prices, the Daily News is tracking prices at several stores and reporting on the cost of 11 food items that might be affected by severe weather damage to crops.

Comeaux, 69, didn't stay away from buying meat products because of higher prices during a recent visit to Sweetbay Supermarket on Immokalee Road.

Comeaux, who bought duck for $3.49 per pound, said it is cheaper to eat out at restaurants sometimes rather than buying the groceries for a meal and cooking it yourself.

Corn oil and dog food prices are creeping up at several supermarkets, yet the cost of center-cut pork chops and ham decreased at other supermarkets.

Marilyn Frank, 66, said she hasn't noticed a significant increase in food prices.

In this Sept. 19, 2012 file photo, corn plants weakened by the drought lie on the ground after being knocked over by rain in Bennington, Neb. Delegates from nearly 200 countries are meeting in the Qatari capital of Doha to discuss ways slowing climate change, including by cutting emissions of greenhouse gases that scientists say are warming the planet, melting ice caps, raising sea levels, and changing rainfall patterns with impacts on floods and droughts. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

In this Sept. 19, 2012 file photo, corn plants weakened by the drought lie on the ground after being knocked over by rain in Bennington, Neb. Delegates from nearly 200 countries are meeting in the Qatari capital of Doha to discuss ways slowing climate change, including by cutting emissions of greenhouse gases that scientists say are warming the planet, melting ice caps, raising sea levels, and changing rainfall patterns with impacts on floods and droughts. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

"Sometimes this time of the year, prices go up," said the Bonita Springs seasonal resident from Texas.

However ham prices decreased at some supermarkets just in time for the holidays.

Spiral, double-brown sugar Sam's Choice brand ham has dropped to $1.98 from $2.68 per pound since Sept. 12 at the Walmart store on U.S. 41 near Immokalee Road. The Publix brand of honey-cured spiral sliced ham decreased to $2.69 per pound, compared to $2.99 in mid-September. At Target, Archer Farms brand of spiral cut ham was $1.89 — on sale from its regular price of $2.99 — compared to $2.99 in mid-September.

Frank, who bought pork for $4.29 per pound at Publix this week, said she finds grocery prices more expensive in Southwest Florida, compared to Texas. Moreover, Frank said, eating healthier is more expensive, no matter the state.

Meanwhile, diesel fuel prices continue to drop. Fuel prices also could affect food prices; diesel is used by many delivery trucks. The average diesel price in Naples was $3.95 per gallon this week, a decrease from $4.08 per gallon on Sept. 12, according to gasbuddy.com.

Here are some examples of food prices that have gone up since Sept. 12, when the Daily News began documenting the price changes:

■ Publix brand top sirloin steak increased to $7.09 from $6.99 at the Publix store near U.S. 41 and West Terry Street in Bonita Springs. Walmart brand top sirloin steak rose to $6.98, compared to $6.18, at the store on Immokalee Road.

■ A one-pound bag of frozen Walmart brand whole kernel corn rose to $1.98 from $1.08 at the store near U.S. 41 and Immokalee Road. At Target, a bag of frozen whole kernel corn was $1.14, compared to $1.02.

■ Hormel-brand pork chops rose to $4.49 at Target along Immokalee Road, compared to $4.29.

■ Ground-chuck hamburger — 80 percent lean/20 percent fat — was $3.99 per pound compared to $3.79 at the Sweetbay store on Immokalee Road. At Target, ground-chuck hamburger rose to $3.79 from $3.69.

■ A 40-ounce bottle of Mazola brand corn oil rose to $3.75 from $3.48 at Walmart on U.S. 41. At the Sweetbay, a bottle of corn oil was $4.59, compared to $3.99.

■ An eight-pound bag of Purina One-brand smart blend dog food rose to $14.69 from $13.89 at the Publix store near U.S. 41 and West Terry Street in Bonita Springs. At the Sweetbay, a bag of Purina One was $13.89, compared to $12.89. The same dog food bag went from $11.79 to $12.49 at Target.

Here are some examples of prices that have decreased since Sept. 12:

■ Walmart brand pork loin center-cut chops dropped from $3.88 per pound to $3.68. Smithfield brand pork loin center-cut chops dropped from $3.59 per pound to $3.39 at the Sweetbay.

■ Ground-chuck hamburger — 80 percent lean/20 percent fat — was $3.38 per pound, compared to $3.68 at the Wal-Mart store on U.S. 41 near Immokalee Road.

■ A 15.25-ounce can of Green Giant brand whole-kernel corn/sweet corn dropped from $1.19 cents to 99 cents at Sweetbay.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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