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USDA'S REPORT TO CO E
,, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE* OFFICE OF COMMUN I *I'A'T.C. 20250
March-April 1975 127
EAT WHAT YOU CAN
But Be Sure You Can It Right. In looking r -;wa%, stretch their
food dollar, many families are growing th~e o u ~qdts and vegeta- 1 "
bles--and canning the result. Home canning provides tasty, inexpensive
quality products--and a sense of real satisfaction and achievement. -
If you are considering canning food this year--whether for the
first time or after a few years' lapse--remember that it is impor-
tant to follow reliable directions and to use the proper equipment.
Nothing will be gained by canning if food spoils or your family
becomes ill from food poisoning. Because of the increase in new
gardeners and novice canners during the past year--and an even
larger number declaring their intentions for the coming season--the .
U.S. Department of Agriculture has launched an information/education '
campaign to alert consumers to the dangers of improper home canning(
procedures. As a part of the campaign, conferences are being held
during April, May and June in several large cities (you might want -
to check your local papers for announcements if you live in or near /.'.. w /''
Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, "- ---
Minneapolis, Seattle or Detroit). Information kits, "Keep It Hot; ". -
Keep It Cold; Keep It Safe," containing USDA publications and other
information on home canning, home freezing and related safety fact-
ors, are being distributed. (A limited supply of the kits are avail-
able free from Room 460-A, Special Reports Division, Office of ; ,I/'
Communication, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washingtion, D.C. '
20250.) And home economists of the Cooperative Extension Service,
located in almost every county, are ready and available to answer
questions and supply expert advice to home canners. So, after the
harvest and as you enjoy your good-tasting, nutritious, inexpensive
and properly canned foods--bon appetite. / -"
FOOD STAMP INFORMATION-
To Fit The Pocket. The Food and Nutrition Service, the agency which
administers USDA's food assistance programs, has recently issued two
booklets about the Food Stamp Program--both pocket size for quick and -, *.
handy reference. "Food Stamp Handbook for Volunteers," (FNS-1) is a p|
revised edition of a popular publication designed for persons who work
with poor families. The handbook outlines some of the ways to help
families improve their diets and offers facts about the Food Stamp
Program. The second booklet, "Shopping With Food Stamps," (PA-1109)
contains many of the important rules for taking part in the Food Stamp
Program. It also lists tips on how to shop, store and use food to put
more food on the table and provide better nutrition for the family. '
Single free copies of the booklets are available from the Information ..i.
Division, Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture,
Washington, D.C. 20250.
.47^f- 1 A* I CA. I
SPRING FOOD PREVIEW
The good news for consumers about retail food prices this year is that so far they are
climbing at less than half the rate of last year. And they are expected to climb at
about the same rate as the spring progresses.
Last year, food prices climbed 4.6 percent in the first three months of the year. This
year the rate of increase was cut to less than 2 percent. It is expected that the
increase for the spring months will be at about the same rate. Most of the increases
ahead will be in red meat and poultry prices.
But farm commodity markets are unpredictable--and likely to stay that way. If markets
strengthened--with continued cost pressured in the business of marketing and distribu-
ting food--grocery store prices could rise more rapidly than they did in winter.
What about individual food items you'll shop for this spring? During this last winter,
beef prices dropped, reflecting exceptionally heavy slaughter of cattle. Producers
have been pushed to slaughter their cattle by high costs for feed plus a record large
Traditionally, however, spring has been the time for grazing cattle on lush new
pasture and on range, a time for sending fewer animals to slaughter. Lower feed
prices during late winter also may have encouraged some cattle producers to hold on
to their herds. So look for beef prices to go up this spring.
If you're shopping for breakfast bacon, dinner ham, and other pork items, expect to
pay higher prices. Increases could be less if beef output stays large. But with
last fall's reduced corn crop and resulting high feed prices, many hog producers
sold their breeding stock. Per capital pork supplies are now at about a 10-year low.
It's unlikely pork will build up to more plentiful levels until around 1977.
Lamb, another traditional spring dish, is going to be higher than last fall and
winter. Lamb and sheep numbers are at their lowest level ever.
Poultry producers, adjusting to tighter supplies and high prices for feed, continue
to limit output. This may hit home during spring in the form of rising retail
broiler and turkey prices. Whether poultry producers step up production much in
the second half of 1975 will depend on the size of crops farmers are able to harvest.
The best poultry buy for spring: eggs. Like broiler and turkey production, egg
output has been pinched in recent months. While that would suggest you'd pay more
for eggs now than last winter, spring is always a flush season for eggs. Even so,
look for prices somewhat above the 68 they averaged last spring but below levels
of last fall and winter.
We started 1975 with larger stocks of frozen fish than a year earlier because of
competition from the large meat and poultry supplies last year. Still, retail fish
prices rose: costs of marketing and distributing fish were going up last year too.
The prices you pay for cereals and bakery products may edge up during spring, though
less than the rise expected in food prices generally. While the cost of baking and
distributing continues upward, the cost of farm ingredients--flour, cooking oil,
isugar--has eased considerably lately. This has been holding down retail increases.
Rice prices shot up over the past year and a half. But the picture's changing. In
January, for example, rice at the grocery store averaged 2c a pound less than a year
earlier. Farm prices for rice have been substantially below last year's level, so
possibly you'll see further reductions in retail prices this spring.
Good fruit buys this season. Look for plenty of fresh oranges, lemons, and straw-
berries and apples and pears from storage. Fruit prices will go through their
seasonal increases this spring but these may average only moderately above those of
a year ago. Canned juices are an economical choice, especially orange juice.
In the frozen fruit section, expect to spend a bit more than you have in recent
months for frozen orange juice. Its price may hold steady for the season due to
large supplies. You'll find plenty of frozen strawberries and raspberries too.
Canned fruits? Farm ingredients cost more than last year and processing and marketing
zosts are higher, too. So expect higher prices but plentiful supplies of pears,
peaches, apples and applesauce, fruit cocktail, tart and sweet cherries, and plums.
here won't be as many canned apricots and pineapples though, due to last season's
raisins and prunes will both be abundant this spring. Prices are likely to stay
3elow last spring's levels.
iut lovers, there are more almonds this season. Peanut enthusiasts will pay a bit
nore for peanut butter. Because marketing costs for candy generally are high,
)eanuts may be sprinkled more lightly through candy this season.
Wholesale sugar prices have been falling since late November. It took a while for
retail prices to drop but they're coming down now. A 5-pound bag of sugar cost 13
2ents less in January than December.
Coffee addicts, expect to pay about the same price for your favorite beverage this
season. Worldwide coffee production rose sharply last year. But coffee growers
intend to retain some of their production. This may help stabilize coffee prices.
The tea drinker's outlook is not so good--prices will likely go up.
1ilk production through June 1975 should about equal last year's. Prices for dairy
products will be rising less than those for other foods this spring. The neck-and-
ieck race of butter and margarine continues but look for more specials on margarine,
thanks to declining prices for vegetable oils. Processed cheese prices likely won't
go over those of last spring.
)own over 12 cents a pound this January from their peak last May, potatoes are a
nost economical vegetable choice this spring. Last year's storage crop exceeded
the previous harvest by 13 percent, so there'll be plenty of potatoes. Try dry beans,
too. All types will be abundant, the white slightly more so than the colored
varieties. Look for fewer spring onions, though. Texas acreage in onions, sub-
3tantially smaller this year, will curtail supplies and help push prices up. Prices
will still be far below the record level of 2 years back. You'll find seasonally
larger amounts of tomatoes and sweet corn in the grocery stores.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
I: ---' ; F .. FOOD I'. 3 1262 08740 1237
Some Good News; Some Bad News. American consumers say they are generally satisfied
with the food they buy and the stores they :*- it from. ~r, there are complaints.
According to a nationwide survey conducted by USDA's Economic Research Service in
the ;-ri- of 1974, prices bothered si- ?:rs the most; individual food items and
reliability of food manufacturers' ads drew heavy criticism. Two-thirds of the
survey respondents said they were satisfied all or almost all the time with food
they purchased; 70 percent reported themselves pleased all or nearly all the time with
foodstores they frequent. Over half of the participants claimed they were satisfied
always or nearly so with the seven major food product groups. (- these, dairy
products and eggs pleased them most; convenience foods the least. Within the food
product groups, certain items drew fire at the time of the survey: prices brou.gh
complaints--especially for beef, pork, fresh tomatoes, potatoes and milk. Tomatoes
got the highest dissatisfaction rating of the 31 products surveyed; price, ripeness,
taste and appearance all drew negative comments. Of the convenience foods tested,
skillet main dishes and frozen convenience dinners got the worst scores. In
contrast, processed fruit and vegetable products rated favorably. When asked if
the.- had at times been dissatisfied with a foodstore or item during the previous
year, 70 percent said yes. But only 7 percent complained directly to the manufac-
turers and only 3 percent informed l'-.lic officials or consumer protection agencies.
Consumers did protest to foodstore managers and did participate in boycotts of food
and foodstores, but most only voiced their complaints to friends and relatives.
Single free copies of the study, "Consumer Satisfaction with Food Products and
Marketing Services," (AER-281) are available from the Publications Division, Economic
Pesearch Service, Room 0054-S, U.S. Department of A-riculture, Washington, D.C. 20250.
What And ~-,.- They Are. Federal milk marketing orders and Federal marketing orders
for fruits and vegetables are -il'ily ir:ortant--and little understood--systems
that h 1p provide consumers with their regularly delivered supply of high quality
produce and milk. These two -ri.cetinr systems have been explained in clear and
concise terms in two fact sheets prepared by L.L[A's Agricultural Marketing Service.
Single free copies of "Facts About: Federal Marketing Orders for Fruits and
Vegetables--in Brief" (AMS-563) and "Facts About: Federal Marl.-inr Orders for
Milk--In Brief" .- '15-564) are available from the Information Division, Agricultural
ar_-.tinv Service, U.S. Department of A.ri:ulture, "'shinrton, D.C. 2'J250. For
more detailed and technical information on the two systems, AMS Information Division
has available single free copies of "Questions and Answers on Federal Marketing
Orders" (2iS 559). "Marketing Agreements and Orders for Fruits and Vegetables"
(PA-1095) can be ordered from F.ibli'iations Division, Office of CiruinicLation, U.S.
Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20250.
-EF'.'ICE is a monthly newsletter of consumer interest. It is designed for those who
report to the individual consumer rather than for mass distribution. For informa-
tion about items in this issue, write: Lillie Vincent, Editor of SERVICE, Office
of Communication, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20250. Tele-
phone (202) 447-5437.
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