Food prices held steady in the first quarter of the year, according to the Marketbasket Survey by Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation. But that could soon change significantly.
The total cost of 40 basic grocery items in March was $116.27, an increase of 74 cents, or 0.6 percent, from the same list of items the previous quarter.
Of the six food groups tracked, dairy showed the biggest increase, with an overall average price jump of 8 percent (up $1.78). Beef had the only average decrease, at 6.4 percent (down $2.12).
The biggest single-item jump: a half-gallon of vanilla ice cream, up 89 cents. The biggest single-item drop: T-bone steak, down 99 cents a pound.
Expect food prices to go up 3 percent to 4 percent later this year, said John Anderson, American Farm Bureau Federation economist.
Last year's drought is expected to drive up retail prices in 2013 not only for grain-based foods but for beef, pork, poultry and dairy products as higher feed costs affect meat product prices.
Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: @janetpattonhl.