American shoppers enjoying streak of falling food prices

TEXAS -- American shoppers are enjoying what could be the longest streak of falling food prices in a half century. That’s good, if you’re buying a shopping cart full of groceries, but it’s not so good for farmers.

Heather Buen said putting food on the table has gotten easier.

“Definitely less painful to go to the store,” she said. 

The Texas mom tracks what she spends each week and said savings on staples like bread and eggs add up.

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Heather Buen tells CBS News’ Manuel Bojorquez that prices are cheaper this year.

CBS News

“I would say I can save anywhere from about $25 to $50 sometimes on my grocery bills in comparison to last year,” she said. 

Buen said it’s a big help.

The average price of a dozen eggs has dropped from $2.57 last year to a $1.54, down nearly 40 percent. A gallon of milk is about 40 cents cheaper, a pound of ground beef, down about 50 cents. 

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Average food prices in 2015 versus 2016. 

CBS News

The reason: the nation’s food supplies have been steadily growing, while demand has declined in major overseas markets like China, where a strong dollar has made American goods more expensive.

It’s good for U.S. consumers like Buen, but not food producers like Pete Bonds of Texas, who owns one of the nation’s largest cattle operations.

“18 months ago these cows would have been worth about $3,000 and they’re probably worth $1,500 now,” he said.

Bonds said the loss of value is several million.  

He said it’s a price drop smaller ranchers may not survive.

The government has already tried to boost the dairy industry by buying $20 million worth of cheese, that will now be distributed to food banks. Whether that’s enough depends on how long prices remain lower in the grocery aisle.

“I think that’s anybody’s guess right now, what we’re hearing it could go through the end of the year and possibly into the first part of next year,” said Michael Byers the CEO of Fiesta Mart.

However, not everything is cheaper. 

Prices for some fruits and vegetables have actually increased over last year due in part to a drought in California.