The farm to retail price spread has been the main contributor to the rise in retail food prices in recent years. This report contains analysis of the farm to retail spread for a market basket of foods and selected items including beef, pork, milk, poultry, potatoes, and bread. The 1981 farm value averaged 35 percent of the price for a market basket of foods, dropping from 37 percent in 1980, and was the lowest in two decades. In 1981, abundant food supplies held down farm prices; retail prices rose faster because of processing and marketing charges. This report also analyzes food industry labor productivity; profit margins; input costs such as labor, packaging, and energy; and consumer food expenditures.


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