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Wisconsin families feeling pain at grocery store thanks to oil

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Wisconsin families are paying more at the grocery store thanks to higher energy prices, according to the recent Market Basket survey by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.

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Each quarter the Farm Bureau tracks the retail price of 20 food items in 26 communities in the state.

According to the report for the second quarter of 2008, food prices jumped 4.3 percent.

The report found that the average price of the 20 items jumped from $53.27 in the first quarter of the year to $55.57 in the second quarter.

Corn oil jumped the most, with a 48-ounce bottle going up 93 cents which Farm Bureau officials note reflects the fact that corn prices have more than doubled in two years and that current contracts for corn are expiring, which means processors will soon have to pay more.

"Corn prices didn't just double overnight so this increase is likely indicative of contract prices expiring. Processors now have to face the reality of huge increases in their primary input and this is being passed to the consumer," said Paul Ketring, a Farm Bureau spokesman.

Flour also saw a significant increase. The report found that a 5-pound bag of Gold Medal flour went from $1.97 in the first quarter to $2.43 in the second quarter.

Ketring notes that the current world demand for flour is very high and that the economies of Russia, China and India are getting stronger, putting more pressure on wheat demand.

"Wheat stocks are very tight not just in the United States but around the world. Bad weather has limited the world's supply of this grain and demand continues to increase," Ketring said.

He also noted that the weak U.S. dollar has made exporting wheat more attractive.

The report found that there were minor changes in the price of dairy products.

A gallon of whole milk dropped 3 cents to $3.36 while a pound of cheddar cheese increased by 2 cents to $4.05 a pound.

Eggs were also on the down side with the price of a dozen eggs dropping 21.6 percent. However, Farm Bureau officials warn that eggs are susceptible to rapid price fluctuations, because of their short product cycle.

Meat prices are also stable right now, according to the Farm Bureau. However that may change.

The Bureau reports that chicken and pork producers are slaughtering more animals right now so that they can reduce supply and raise prices to help pay for higher feed prices.

Farm Bureau officials warn that prices for pork and chicken will rise in the third quarter.

The full Market Basket Survey can be viewed on the Farm Bureau Web site at www.wfbf.com.

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