By TIM THORNBERRY
FRANKFORT, Ky. — For those who serve as the regular grocery shoppers in their families, it is no surprise how expensive food can be. But there is some good news.
The latest Marketbasket Survey conducted by Kentucky Farm Bureau in December indicated “average retail food prices in supermarkets across the state fell slightly during the fourth quarter of the year.” According to the survey, the total cost of 40 basic grocery items was $115.53.
This reflects a decrease of 38 cents, or 0.3 percent, from the same list of items reported in the previous quarter. The survey also showed a 1.1 percent decrease in overall food prices from a year ago.
Now for a bit of bad news: The survey also indicated beef prices had increased 4.6 percent. But before all beef lovers turn to poultry, the Kentucky Beef Council (KBC) is working to educate them on how to enjoy beef on a budget.
Alison Smith, director of consumer affairs for the KBC, said one of the most important things to remember when shopping is to look at price per serving as opposed to price per pound.
“It’s easy to get sticker shock if you’re looking at the price for the entire package but, say you’re getting a family pack or you’re getting a larger portion steak like a flank steak. A flank steak can easily feed four or five people,” she said.
Smith also said consumers should look at nontraditional cuts to make their beef budgets go further. “Those cuts are still great cuts of beef,” she said. Customers can look at how to get two meals out of one cut of meat, as well try to extend their budgets.
For cattle producers, the cow herd now is likely the smallest they have ever seen and much of that has to do with drought conditions last year – that still being felt out West. Some producers were forced to sell part of their herd and shortages have been the result. With those shortages have come higher beef prices.
With the beef checkoff program, money has been spent on advertising campaigns and educational programs to help retailers, restaurants and consumers continue to keep beef on the shelves or the menus. One such is called the Beef Alternative Merchandising (BAM) program, demonstrating the goodness of middle meats.
By simply cutting ribeyes, top loins and top sirloins in specific ways, small filets and roasts can be created. In fact, the BAM program has created eight different cuts that qualify as lean. Smith said consumers have reacted well to this program and retailers have seen sales and poundage increase.
Burger contest deadline April 2
Getting the word out about these kinds of cuts as well as the goodness of a consumer favorite, ground beef, is coming at the right time as grilling season is right around the corner. The KBC and Kentucky Derby Festival are promoting the “Derby Burger Challenge,” as Derby time is soon.
Anyone with a great burger recipe is encouraged to enter. Those recipes are being accepted until April 2.
The idea of the challenge is to get consumers to send in their favorite burger recipe, with finalists being chosen April 4 and the winner selected during a live televised cookoff.
The winning recipe will be featured as the Local Legendary Burger at Hard Rock Café Louisville in April and May; in Louisville-area and Lexington-area Kroger stores from April 22-May 11; and samples will be featured at the Kentucky Derby Festival’s new BeerFest presented by American Founders Bank, according to information from the KBC.
Regardless of which kind of beef is a favorite, consumers are getting more choices. “We hope (producers) see the value in the checkoff. The BAM program, for instance was completely funded by beef checkoff dollars,” said Smith.
For deatails about the Derby Burger Challenge, go to www.kdf.org/beef
For tips on making the most out of beef budget dollars, go to www.kybeef.com