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Flour Costlier in ’08, but It Has Dipped 10? in Past Quarter

August 1, 2008

By David Wichner, The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson

Aug. 1–Baking your own bread is often touted as a money-saving move — not to mention that fresh-baked taste and aroma.

You can still save money by making your own bread and other baked goods, but flour prices have shot up along with other food prices in the past year or so.

In Arizona, prices for all-purpose flour averaged $3.59 per 5-pound bag in the second quarter, up from $2.49 in the same quarter of 2007 but down a dime from the first quarter of this year, according to the latest quarterly marketbasket survey from the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation.

While flour prices were relatively steady through much of 2007, the big jump came in the first quarter of 2008, when average prices in Arizona rose more than $1 a bag.

Flour costs nationally are significantly lower than in Arizona, though they rose 18 cents from the first quarter, to $2.39 per 5-pound bag in the second quarter.

Like all commodity-driven food prices, flour prices are being driven by rising fuel costs, along with soaring global demand and a weak dollar that makes U.S. products relatively cheap, Arizona Farm Bureau spokeswoman Julie Murphree said.

The price of flour roughly tracks the price of wheat, which has been trading at historic highs, Murphree said.

Wheat “is one of those commodities that have really spiked up,” she said.

Rising costs for fuel, feed and fertilizer propelled grain prices to all-time highs in June, raising the overall price of crops and livestock by 16 percent this year, compared with last year, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released Thursday.

Corn and soybeans hit record prices. Wheat slipped from historic highs in March but is still up steeply from last year, and grain prices rose 42 percent for the year overall, the USDA said.

Murphree sees the slight price drop in flour in Arizona last quarter as a good sign.

“We feel like maybe it’s leveling off again,” she said.

While flour prices remain high, you can still get a good deal if you shop around, though the sale prices reported here weren’t in the weekly ad circulars.

Several major grocers had deals on flour this week, including Bashas’, which has been selling the benchmark Gold Medal all-purpose flour for $2.29 per 5-pound bag as a monthly special.

Buying off-brands, larger bags or bulk quantities can save you money as well.

Safeway is selling Gold Medal for a regular price of $3.69 a 5-pound bag, but you can get a 10-pound bag for $5.49.

And if you buy in bulk, you can get organic wheat flour at the Food Conspiracy co-op for $1.49 per pound, with a 10 percent discount when you order a 20-pound bag.

store deals

Prices as of Thursday for Gold Medal all-purpose flour, 5 pounds. Prices listed for Fry’s and Bashas’ are with their respective store loyalty card.

$2.99

Albertsons

$2.29

Bashas’

$2.99

Fry’s

$3.69

Safeway

PRICE OF FLOUR

All-purpose flour, 5-pound bag

Period Arizona National

2006 4th quarter $2.39 $1.60

2007 1st quarter $2.49 $1.90

2007 2nd quarter $2.49 $1.92

2007 3rd quarter $2.49 $1.91

2007 4th quarter $2.56 $1.70

2008 1st quarter $3.69 $2.39

2008 2nd quarter $3.59 $2.57

Source: Arizona Farm Bureau Federation

–Contact Assistant Business Editor David Wichner at 573-4181 or dwichner@azstarnet.com.

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Copyright (c) 2008, The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson

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