Food prices in Arizona are going up.
But they're still cheaper than a year ago.
The quarterly survey done by the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation showed that the price tag for its market basket of 16 basic items hit $48.84 in the second quarter of the year. That is a 6 percent hike from three months earlier.
That is the second straight quarter that prices have risen after more than a year of declines.
But Peggy Jo Goodfellow, spokeswoman for the organization, said prices now are still below where they were at the same time last year.
Goodfellow said a key reason for the spike comes down to a single factor: energy costs, specifically gasoline.
"Fuel is a production cost, especially on a farm or a ranch," she said. "They have to factor that in when they figure prices, too."
And Goodfellow said fuel costs also are an issue for retailers who have the costs of bringing the goods into their stores.
She said, though, there are signs that fuel costs will level off which should make for relatively stable food prices for awhile.
Some of the biggest hikes came in the cost of whole milk, potatoes and apples. And the price tag for most kinds of meat also is going up.
Those increases were at least partly offset by lower costs for cheese, eggs and white bread.
And Goodfellow said that, despite the survey results which measure only basic items, savvy shoppers can find ways to save.
"Season items, you're always going to get your best prices there," she said. The same is true, Goodfellow said, of items farmed locally because they don't have the added shipping costs.
"They are going to have a better price to them," she said. "And the flavor will be better."
Goodfellow said some prices are more volatile than others.
One of those is milk. She said the prices will rise and fall based on supply and demand. And if the cows keep producing but people aren't buying as much, the costs will fall.
She said that is much of what has kept prices in Arizona below the national average. Whole milk is selling in the state for an average of $2.72, versus $3.06 nationally.
But the situation is getting better - at least for farmers: Three months ago milk was retailing in Arizona for an average of $2.19 a gallon.